Court: Baker who refused gay wedding cake can’t cite beliefs
DENVER (AP) — A baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple cannot cite his religious beliefs in refusing them service because it would lead to discrimination, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The decision is the latest victory for gay couples, who have won similar cases in other states. Gay rights supporters and religious freedom advocates have passionately debated whether individuals can cite their beliefs as a basis for declining to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.
The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
In the Colorado case, Jack Phillips declined to make a cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. They were married in Massachusetts but planned to celebrate in Colorado.
After the ruling, Phillips faces fines if he refuses to make wedding cakes for gay couples. Phillips has maintained that he has no problem serving gay people at his store but says that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his Christian beliefs.
His attorneys have said they would consider appealing up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees,” said another of Phillips’ attorneys, Jeremy Tedesco, with the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom. “The court is wrong to deny Jack his fundamental freedoms.”
The baker has maintained that he has no problem serving gay people at his store but says that making a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his religious views.
“Today is a proud day for equality and for upholding the law,” said Ria Mar, an attorney who argued the case for the American Civil Liberties Union. “In America, no one should be turned away from a shop or restaurant because of who they are or who they love.”
In July, a bakery in the Portland, Oregon, area that declined to make a wedding cake for a gay couple two years ago was ordered to pay $135,000 in damages.