WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Colorado baker is petitioning the Supreme Court to hear a case over same-sex "marriage" wedding cakes.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, is filing the petition in light of a lower court ruling forcing him to service same-sex couples seeking wedding cakes, despite his deeply held religious beliefs.
Following Phillip's refusal in 2012 to bake a cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the pair sued the baker, citing discrimination. The resulting litigation from both the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals ordered Phillips to amend his establishment's policy regarding gay weddings. The 2013 ruling maintained being asked to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding did not violate Phillip's religious freedom or right to free speech.
"While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one's religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers," asserted Amanda C. Goad of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. "No one is asking Masterpiece's owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple."
The baker then took his case to the state supreme court, which refused to hear it, forcing Phillips to petition the highest court in the land for a reversal to the lower court decision.
"No one — not Jack or anyone else — should be forced by the government to further a message that they cannot in good conscience promote," declares attorney Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian nonprofit representing Phillips. "And that's what this case is about."
For Phillips, the issue is the court's mandate he use his own talents to support an idea he cannot condone. "The message I would be supporting with my talents is not a message I agree with or can pour myself into communicating effectively," he wrote in the petition, filed Friday. "It's not about selling cookies or cupcakes; it's about investing some part of my creative soul into communicating an idea my heart rejects."
Tedesco notes the Colorado gay wedding cake case is not the only one of its kind currently making its way through the legal system. "Our view is it's only a matter of time before the Supreme Court takes on one of these cases," Tedesco explains. "It's a really crucial issue of First Amendment law."
The Supreme Court undertaking is already being challenged, with the ACLU threatening to fight the case with all its might.
"As we've argued and the courts have consistently and correctly ruled in this case, everyone has a right to their religious beliefs," explains Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU of Colorado. "But business owners cannot rely on those beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against prospective customers."
"Masterpiece Cakeshop has willfully and repeatedly considered itself above the law when it comes to discriminating against customers, and the state has rightly determined otherwise," remarks Sara R. Neel, also with the ACLU of Colorado. "It's important for all Coloradans to be treated fairly by every business that is open to the public — that's good for business and good for the community."
To date, only one other case similar to Phillip's — involving a New Mexico photographer who refused to photograph a gay couple — has petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn lower court decision. The case was declined in April 2014.