Colorado law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or sexual orientation, and both the state civil rights commission and an appeals court ruled against Phillips, sending the case to Washington.
David Cole, an attorney for Mullins, a 33-year-old poet and musician, and Craig, a 37-year-old interior designer, said he respected the sincerity of Phillips' convictions. If you prevail, could the baker just put up a sign outside his shop saying "No gays allowed?"
Phillips and his lawyers have it exactly wrong-it is they who pose a threat to religious freedom. Colorado is one of 21 states to have a statewide law banning discrimination against LGBTQ people in public accomodations, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found Phillips' refusal to bake a violation of this law, prompting Phillips' case to move to the Supreme Court via appeal in June.
The US Supreme Court on Monday let stand [order list, PDF] a Texas Supreme Court ruling that did not extend spousal benefits to same-sex couples under employee insurance plans.
Because same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado in 2012, Justice Samuel Alito noted, Craig and Mullins could not have obtained a marriage license where they lived or gotten a local official to marry them. But if Phillips prevails before the Supreme Court, those who would deny jobs or services to people due to their religious objections will feel even more empowered to do so.
Justice Kennedy ruled for same-sex marriage. But he might flip in a big new LGBTQ rights case.
In court papers, Kristen K. Waggoner, a lawyer from the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing Phillips, argued that the First Amendment guarantees him the right to decline to make wedding cakes that celebrate marriages that are in conflict with his religious beliefs.
"When a business opens its doors to the public, it must serve the public", a spokesperson said.
"And soon thereafter they both raged out and left", he said. While she argued that the free exercise clause forbids the commission from targeting Phillips "and like-minded believers for punishment", she reserved the bulk of her brief for the free speech clause, perhaps targeting Kennedy, who has at times shown an expansive view of free speech.
Phillips and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, were in the courtroom for arguments in the closely watched case that could affect other situations where there's a clash between social conservatives' claim of religious freedom and the LGBT community's fight to preserve hard-won rights. It follows a legal analysis similar to that originally proposed by Banzhaf, who suggested that anti-discrimination statutes prevent discrimination based upon the characteristics of a potential customer (e.g., being gay), but not upon a refusal to send a message related to that characteristic (e.g., preparing a same-sex wedding cake). The lawsuit was then forced to go back to the Houston District Court to determine that issue - whether Obergefell applies to spousal benefits for gays. "I don't feel like we asked for a piece of art, or for him to make a statement, we simply asked him for a cake, and he denied that to us simply because of who we are".
Jack Phillips is right about one thing: religious liberty is a bedrock American principle. "It can't discriminate against certain members of the public, and that's what happened in this case". "Accordingly, the government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write". These laws serve as a critically important check against discrimination by businesses, employers, landlords, others; without such protections, individuals or groups-especially those outside the mainstream-would not be able to fully participate in civil society, and would be vulnerable to unjust persecution and harassment at every turn.