Colorado Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case of Baker Who Turned Away Same-Sex Couple
The Colorado Supreme Court has decided against hearing the case of a Lakewood baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court's decision on this matter effectively upholds the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that a storeowner cannot cite his or her religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer.
In 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips had refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple who were looking to celebrate their union in Colorado. The Colorado residents, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, had visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to purchase a cake for their upcoming nuptials. The couple had planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate at home in Colorado with friends and family. Phillips then informed the couple that, because of his religious beliefs, it was his practice to refuse wedding services for same-sex couples. Phillips has reportedly already turned away several other couples for this same reason.
Phillips’ attorney, who had asked the state’s high court to hear the shop-owner’s case, stated that she is “evaluating all legal options.” Should Phillips and his attorney decide to continue pursuing the case, they may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Because of Colorado’s Anti-Discriminatory Act, businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop are prohibited from refusing service to individuals based on the owner’s own religious beliefs. This includes reasons such as the customer’s sex, race, sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against Phillips on behalf of Mullins and Craig. Ria Tabacco Mar, a staff attorney of the ACLU, said in a statement, “We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them. We hope today's win will serve as a lesson for others that equality and fairness should be our guiding principles and that discrimination has no place at the table, or the bakery as the case may be.”
Later in 2013, an administrative judge ruled that Masterpiece Cakeshop has indeed discriminated illegally against the couple. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission upheld that ruling later that year. In 2014, Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission began requiring that Phillips submit quarterly reports for the next two years to show that he was working to chance discriminatory practices in his bakery.
In August of 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the bakery had undeniably discriminated illegally against Mullins and Craig by refusing to sell them a cake for their wedding.