DENVER — An administrative law judge with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has ordered a baker to make cakes for clients who request service for same-sex ceremonies, despite his Christian beliefs not to partake in another man’s sins.
“Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech. … It is not the same as forcing a person to pledge allegiance to the government or to display a motto with which they disagree,” wrote Judge Robert N. Spencer in his ruling on Friday, ordering the baker to “cease and desist” under the threat of fines.
As previously reported, Dave Mullin and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood in July 2012 to look for options for their upcoming same-sex ceremony celebration. As Colorado has a constitutional amendment enshrining marriage as being between a man and a woman, the men planned to travel to Massachusetts and then return to Colorado for a separate celebration.
However, after their arrival at the cake shop, Mullin and Craig were advised by owner Jack Phillips that he does not make cakes for same-sex ceremonies.
“My first comment was, ‘We’re getting married,’ and he just shut that down immediately,” Craig, 31, stated.
Phillips told Christian News Network that he does not make cakes for such occasions because of his Christian convictions.
“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ, and I believe that the relationship is not something that He looks favorably on,” the master pastry chef stated. “If Jesus was a carpenter, He wouldn’t make a bed for this union.”
Phillips, who attends a Baptist church, explained that when he informed Mullin and Craig that his bakery does not make cakes for same-sex “weddings,” the men immediately left. He stated that one of them made a comment on his way out the door that the bakery was a “homophobic cake shop.”
Mullin, 28, indicated to Denver Westward that is indeed what took place.
“It was the most awkward, surreal, very brief encounter,” he stated. “We got up to leave, and to be totally honest, I said, ‘(expletive) and your homophobic cake shop.’ And I may or may not have flipped him off.”
Mullin and Craig then filed charges with the Colorado Human Rights Commission, which heard the case this week. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented the men, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) affiliate Nicolle Martin represented Phillips.
The ACLU asserted that Phillip’s faith did not give him a “license to discriminate,” while Martin argued that Phillips’ obedience to God encompassed his business practices. According to reports, Phillips was willing to serve the men, but drew the line when it came to facilitating their ceremony. Martin told commentator Todd Starnes that Phillips also declines to make Halloween cookies at his bakery, so his beliefs are lived out in more than one aspect.
But Judge Spencer sided with the ACLU on Friday, contending that Phillips should have made the cake because he was not told that there would be any words or symbols written on it—and that is what would make the difference in the eyes of the law.
“Phillips was not asked to apply any message or symbol to the cake, or to construct the cake in any fashion that could be reasonably understood as advocating same-sex marriage,” he wrote. “For all Phillips knew at the time, Complainants might have wanted a nondescript cake that would have been suitable for consumption at any wedding. Therefore, Respondents’ claim that they refused to provide a cake because it would convey a message supporting same-sex marriage is specious.”
“The act of preparing a cake is simply not ‘speech’ warranting First Amendment protection,” Spencer asserted.
Following the ruling, the ACLU applauded Spencer’s decision.
“No one is asking Masterpiece’s owners to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple,” said attorney Amanda Goad.
But ADF attorney Nicole Martin said that faith is about living out God’s commandments in obedience, not merely formulating an opinion or belief.
“America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs,” she told reporters. “Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free.”
“If the government can take aware our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can’t take away,” Martin said.
Appeal options are now being considered.
Photo: Fox 29