DENVER — The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling requiring a Christian baker to make cakes for “gay weddings” despite his biblical beliefs not to be a partaker in other men’s sins. (1 Timothy 5:22)
“We conclude that the act of same-sex marriage is closely correlated to Craig’s and Mullins’ sexual orientation, and therefore, [the initial arbiter] did not err when he found that Masterpiece’s refusal to create a wedding cake for Craig and Mullins was ‘because of’ their sexual orientation,’” the three-judge panel, consisting of Judges Daniel Taubman, Judge Michael Berger and Judge Alan Loeb, ruled on Thursday.
As previously reported, Dave Mullin and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colorado 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.”
Phillips, who also declines to make Halloween cookies at his bakery, had told the men that he would be happy to make them any other type of baked goods outside of having to facilitate the ceremony, which he believed was a form of personal participation.
However, Mullin and Craig then filed charges with the Colorado Human Rights Commission with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In December 2013, Judge Robert Spencer sided with the ACLU, contending that Phillips should have made the cake because he was not told that there would be any words or symbols written on it.
“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. “The act of preparing a cake is simply not ‘speech’ warranting First Amendment protection.”
In May of last year, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission upheld Spencer’s ruling, stating that Phillips violated the state’s civil rights law. The Commission then ordered that Phillips educate his staff in alignment with the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, to implement new policies in light of the ruling, and to file quarterly compliance reports for two years. The reports must note each product that was declined to be created and the reason why to prove that Phillips’ religious beliefs no longer influence his business decisions.
But attorneys for Phillips filed an appeal with the Colorado Court of Appeals, and on Thursday, the court upheld the lower court’s rulings, essentially opining that while Phillips may retain a personal belief in his mind, he is not permitted to live out his Christian convictions in the workplace due to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act. The court asserted that providing the cake for the ceremony does not equal an endorsement of same-sex nuptials.
“Nothing in the record supports the conclusion that a reasonable observer would interpret Masterpiece’s providing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as an endorsement of same-sex marriage rather than a reflection of its desire to conduct business in accordance with Colorado’s public accommodations law,” the court ruled.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Phillips in court, says that it is considering the legal options at this time.
“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith. Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views,” said Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco in a statement. “Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees. The court is wrong to deny Jack his fundamental freedoms.”