Supreme Court Takes On New Clash Of Gay Rights, Religion

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court passed up its first chance to hear a similar case in 2014 - eight years after Elaine Huguenin and her husband, Jonathan, told a lesbian couple that their Albuquerque photo studio only worked "traditional weddings".

Conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented, saying the lower court decision should not have been reversed.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., declined to make a cake for the wedding celebration of two gay men in 2012.

After hearing about Phillips's refusal, another bakery provided Craig and Mullins with a rainbow-adorned cake brief of charge, but the couple made a decision to file a complaint with Colorado's Civil Rights Commission.

"What should have been a joyous occasion had turned into a humiliating occasion", Deborah Munn, the mother of Craig, wrote in a blog post for the American Civil Liberties Union about the experience. While the wedding was held in MA, where same-sex marriage had been legal since 2004, the celebration was planned for back home in Colorado.

The case will be a major test of a clash between laws that ban businesses open to the public from discriminating based on sexual orientation and claims of religious freedom.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Phillips had violated the measure and ordered him to take remedial measures including comprehensive staff training and the filing of quarterly compliance reports.

He's also reportedly refused to make cakes that celebrate Halloween, that have an "anti-American or anti-family theme", or that have profane messages.

With the ruling, Phillips could face a penalty if he continues to deny wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

Of the remaining cases argued during the court's current term, which began in October, the most eagerly awaited one concerns a Missouri church backed by a conservative Christian legal group.

The Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal from Phillips.

Phillips' argument hinges in part on whether baking cakes should be classified as a creative act that touches upon his beliefs, touching on his free speech rights, or whether it is more akin to selling a product like toilet paper or shampoo.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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