Supreme Court Case: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Should same-sex couples face discrimination and be treated as though they are second-class citizens in America? The Supreme Court Case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission responds to this controversial question. The case is between a Colorado bakeshop owner, Mr. Phillips, and a happily engaged gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig. 

The dispute began in 2012 when David and Charlie visited Mr. Phillips’s bake shop to find a customized wedding cake for their reception held in Colorado. Mr. Phillips denied the couple their rights. He told them that he will NOT convey a message that supports same-sex marriage by using his artistic talent of cake baking. He also stated that the religious beliefs he espouses condemn same-sex marriage. In return, the couple was humiliated, and therefore, filed a complaint order with the Civil Rights Commission in Colorado.

Mr. Phillips’s lawyer, Kristen K. Waggoner, testified saying that the state cannot force Mr. Phillips to advocate for same-sex marriage, which violated his religious beliefs. However, the lawyer negated her argument when she said that the situation would be different for an interracial couple. Additionally, the Trump administration’s lawyer, Francisco, validated Waggoner’s statement by saying that “race is particularly unique,” and it is more difficult to vindicate interracial couples’ discrimination as opposed to gay couples’ discrimination.

To contradict the lawyers’ arguments, the couple’s lawyer affirmed that denying this gay couple their rights demotes gay and lesbian individuals to second-class citizens. One of the court justices, Justice Kennedy, is pro-gay rights. He claimed that a broad ruling for Mr. Phillips would demoralize this important court decision by saying that it is permissible for any artist to deny goods or services to same-sex couples. Justice Kennedy stated that Mr. Phillips’s refusal to use speech to promote gay marriage could be utilized by artists, such as a photographers, as an argument supporting a boycott on same-sex marriage in their field. 

Another one of the Justices, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, stated that no matter what the ruling is for Mr. Phillips, it will, nonetheless, inflict some sort of loss on the ethics of equality and will weaken someone’s civil rights.  Mr. Phillips is being discriminatory. However, can the state force an individual to go against his/her religious beliefs and convey messages that he/she disagrees with?

Eventually, the judge ruled that if Mr. Phillips creates cakes for opposite-sex couples, he must do the same for same-sex couples.

Clearly not the ending Mr. Phillips was praying for, he decided to stop making custom wedding cakes altogether. Mr. Phillips stated, “The civil rights commission says you have to violate your faith...Use your talents and make cakes for religious events you don’t agree with. The only way I can avoid disobeying the ruling of the court is to not make wedding cakes, period.”

All information found in this article was from the New York Times