Supreme Court ends up on Monday the tensions between gay rights proponents and conservative Christians. The trophy’s case went to the Baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. But the Colorado justice ruling concluded, “The commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.”
The ruling's author, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has authored significant rulings that advanced gay rights such as the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote.
“Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Kennedy continues showing a strong advocate for free speech rights and religious freedom.
“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 added.
Colorado is one of the 21 states that have anti-discrimination laws protecting gay people. But Philips’s case pitted gay rights against religious liberty and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration intervened in the case in support of Phillips.
Gay marriage was not yet legal in Colorado in 2012, when the gay couple asked from Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver, to make their wedding cake.
The baker's refuse bothered the couple that much that they filed a successful complaint with the state commission, a legal battle which lasted for six years.
State courts sided with the couple, prompting Phillips to appeal to the top U.S. court. Phillips has said a backlash against his business has left him struggling to keep the shop afloat.
“Freedom of religion, and religion, has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.” Former commissioner Diann Rice said at a 2014 hearing.
Phillips’ lawyers said his cakes are an art form - a “temporary sculpture” - and being forced to create one to commemorate a gay wedding would violate his constitutional rights to free speech and expression and free exercise of religion.