Supreme Court Sides With Colorado Baker Who Refused Service to Gay Couple

J. Scott Applewhite  Associated Press file		The US Supreme Court building

The justices voted 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment. The court holds that "these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to honest religious beliefs and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market".

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, refused to bake a cake for couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

Only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor opposed the narrow ruling in favor of the baker.

Colorado is one of 22 states that includes sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination law, which allowed Mr Craig and Mr Mullins to win their case before the state's Civil Rights Commission.

Twenty-one states, including Colorado, now have anti-discrimination laws protecting people from being refused service on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which has been supporting Phillips, welcomed the decision saying the court had protected his "ability to live and work consistent with his beliefs". "This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack's beliefs about marriage".

It sided with Craig and Mullins, as did the Colorado Court of Appeals. Therefore, Kennedy concluded, the commission's order - which, among other things, required Phillips to sell same-sex couples wedding cakes or anything else that he would sell to opposite-sex couples and mandated remedial training and compliance reports - "must be set aside".

In ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the court declined to make sweeping rulings about the propriety of such laws as CADA generally, but instead focused on what it considered shortcomings in the Civil Rights Commission's deliberative processes.

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Shunning customers based on their sexual orientation or gender identities is still illegal in or - and the Supreme Court's decision does nothing to change that, the group said during a news conference in downtown Portland.

This includes a Supreme Court case from a florist who didn't want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, according to the AP.

Kennedy cited the comments of one commissioner, who said religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, including slavery and the Holocaust.

According to the opinion, the case hinged on how a Colorado Commission reviewing the case treated Phillips' and his religious beliefs.

The couple then learned that Colorado's public accommodations law specifically prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, and they filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. For example, he refused to bake cakes that celebrated divorces, cakes that were infused with alcohol, cakes with obscene language or artwork, or cakes celebrating same sex weddings.

Joining Kennedy in the decision was U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts as well as U.S. Associate Justices Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas.

- The commission was inconsistent, the ruling said.

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