Protesters outside the Supreme Court in December 2017, when arguments were being on heard on whether a Colorado baker, who refused to make a wedding cake for the couple based on his religious beliefs, is protected by the First Amendment.
Photo: Tom Williams (CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing religious beliefs.

In 2012, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins went into Masterpiece Cakeshop, owned by baker Jack Phillips, and asked him to create a wedding cake for them. As that state did not honor same-sex marriage at the time, the pair intended to get married in Massachusetts and then throw a reception back in their home of Colorado.

Although Phillips, a devout Christian, said he would make a birthday cake or even a shower cake for the pair, he refused to fulfill the wedding cake request. Craig and Mullins investigated and found that they were not the first same-sex pair the bakery had denied. The Supreme Court decision states that the pair then filed a discrimination complaint against the bakery, which opened up an investigation with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

The case was argued in December 2017, and was just ruled on, with the court finding in favor of the bakery, 7-2. (Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.) In the ruling, Justice Kennedy says that as Phillips’ “‘main goal in life is to be obedient to’ Jesus Christ and Christ’s ‘teachings in all aspects of his life’… to Phillips, creating a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding would be equivalent to participating in a celebration that is contrary to his own most deeply held beliefs.” Kennedy maintains that:

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. For that reason the laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect them in the exercise of their civil rights… At the same time, the religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.

Advertisement

CNN notes that the ruling “leaves unsettled the broader constitutional questions the case presented” and “is not the wide-ranging ruling on religious liberty that some expected.” The Washington Post wrote that “the opinion withholds judgment on how future cases might be decided in instances where the state displays no religious animosity.” Since “it is tailored to the case at hand,” says CNN, specifically focused on the “animus” that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed toward Phillips, it is unclear as to what ramifications this decision will have on same-sex and religious rights in the long run.