No cake for Colorado gays, but bigotry is okay

The US Supreme Court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, that it is legal for a business to discriminate against and deny service to potential customers for perceived behavior and that government efforts to prevent such social persecution amounts to “hostility to religion.”

The Supreme Court absolved Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cake Shop, a Colorado baker who refused to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, ruling that the state exhibited “religious hostility” against his discrimination.

The 7-2 verdict criticized the state’s reaction to Phillips’ religious objections to gay marriage in 2012, several years before the practice was legalized nationwide. but the justices avoided a wider ruling on religious exemptions for businesses as the verdict does not address principle of whether a business can refuse to serve gay people.

Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to the baker in Lakewood, Colorado in July 2012, but Phillips, the owner, would not provide a cake for the same-sex couple so they complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC), which decided against Phillips.

On Monday the nation’s top court ruled 7-2 that the commission had violated Phillips’ rights under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated a baker’s religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when it ruled he could not arbitrarily deny service to a couple merely because of their sexuality.

The court said the wider principle of whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people, “must await further elaboration”.

Instead the justices ruled that a state civil rights commission was hostile to Phillips while allowing other bakers to refuse to create cakes that demeaned gays and same-sex marriages.

The long-awaited decision did not resolve whether opponents of same-sex marriage, including bakers, florists, photographers and videographers, can refuse commercial wedding services to gay couples.

“The laws and the constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the court’s majority, “but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” Kennedy wrote.

In fact, the court on Monday scheduled a similar case involving a Washington State florist for consideration at their private conference Thursday.


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