US Supreme Court sides with baker who refused to serve a same-sex couple

5 June 2018

US Supreme Court sides with baker who refused to serve a same-sex couple

The US Supreme Court has reached a ruling in the favour of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on the grounds of religious freedom.

In July of 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado to order a cake. The owner of the shop, Jack Phillips, said he refused to provide a cake for same-sex couples.

The couple made a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC), which decided against Mr Phillips.

The case then preceded to be held in the supreme court, where a ruling of 7-2 was reached on Monday, siding with the argument that the commission violated Mr Phillip’s rights under the first amendment, which guarantees freedom of expression.

While the court ruled in favour of Mr Phillips, it did not address the wider principle of businesses refusing to serve gay people. The court said it “must await further elaboration.”

“The court’s precedents make clear that the baker, in his capacity as the owner of a business serving the public, might have his right to the free exercise of religion limited by generally applicable laws,” Justice Kennedy wrote.

The decision focused narrowly on the handling of Mr Phillip’s case by the CCRC, however it has still left open questions of whether anti-discrimination laws should supersede religious beliefs in future cases.

Mr Mullins spoke to reporters on a conference call, where he said, “I just hope that people can understand that this is not a wide-ranging ruling, and that this doesn’t mean that … the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act has been invalidated in any way. We will continue fighting until no one has to endure the shame, embarrassment and humiliation of being told, ‘We don’t serve your kind here.’”

Speaking to the Guardian, Mr Craig said: “We’ve been going through this for our entire marriage – it’s been six years – and if I could have a time-travelling machine and go back in time and do it all over again, we absolutely would.”

Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the supreme court from a florist who did not want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.