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WASHINGTON (CBS Local) – The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
It was a case that pitted gay rights against religious expression and it was brought to court by Christian baker Jack Phillips after he refused to serve two gay men six years ago.
Phillips said his cakes are artistic expression and that creating a cake celebrating gay marriage violates his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court sided with Phillips in a 7-2 vote.
It started back when Charlie Craig and David Mullins went into Masterpiece Cakeshop in 2012 and asked for a cake for their wedding reception. However, Phillips refused the request.
Craig and Mullins said Phillips discriminated against them and violated their civil rights.
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in December. In their decision posted on Monday, the justices ruled the Colorado Civil Rights Commission didn’t maintain religious neutrality when it ruled against Phillips.
“Today’s decision means our fight against discrimination and unfair treatment will continue,” Craig and Mullins said in a joint statement. “We have always believed that in America, you should not be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are. We brought this case because no one should have to face the shame, embarrassment, and humiliation of being told ‘we don’t serve your kind here’ that we faced, and we will continue fighting until no one does,” the couple added.
The court’s complete opinion is available at supremecourt.gov, with the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer were the only two judges who disagreed with the ruling.
“The gay community needs to be treated with dignity and with respect,” said Gino Geraci, pastor of Calvary South Denver, outside Masterpiece Cakeshop on Monday. “Discrimination of all forms is reprehensible, but as you’ll note that the courts said hostility towards religious freedom is inappropriate. Neutrality is the proper approach. And for that, I’m glad for the court’s ruling.”
“Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs,” the Alliance Defending Freedom, who defended Phillips, said in a statement. “Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment. Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours. This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack’s beliefs about marriage.”
Gov. John Hickenlooper released this statement regarding the Supreme Court’s decision: “It’s against Colorado law to deny goods and services to any individual because of sexual orientation. Nothing in the narrow opinion released today by the United States Supreme Court changes that, or prevents the state from protecting LGBTQ persons from discrimination.
“While we are disappointed with the decision, we take seriously the Court’s admonition that the state must apply its laws and regulations in a manner that is neutral toward religion. We have no doubt that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will meet that standard as they listen, respectfully, to all sides of the matters that come before it and issue decisions that uphold the protections afforded under Colorado law.”
[H/T CBS Denver]