Should bakers and other vendors be allowed to refuse service to gays and lesbians, specifically when it comes to marital ceremonies? “No,” argues one gay couple who have filed a discrimination complaint against a Colorado baker who refused to provide them with a wedding cake.
Masterpiece Cakeshop, owned by Jack Phillips and based near Denver, Colorado, is at the center of the dispute after David Mullins and Charlie Craig attempted to order the baked good from the business last summer.
Phillips, declining to provide service after learning of the couple’s sexuality, cited his Christian beliefs. But Mullins and Craig aren’t accepting Biblical arguments as a viable basis for the refusal.
“We were all very upset, but I was angry and I felt dehumanized and mortified,” Mullins said in an interview with the Associated Press.
What was then posted by the couple on Facebook, as Gawker notes, spread like wildfire and is now making national headlines. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is also involved, having found two other couples were Phillips declined to make cakes for in the past as well. The legal group is not researching next steps in the contentious case.
Last week, the Colorado Attorney General’s office also filed a formal complaint. If the baker loses and continues to refuse service to gays and lesbians, he could be fined $500 per instance — and given up to a year in jail, his attorney claims. Phillips will stand in front of the state’s Civil Rights Commission in September.
“We are all entitled to our religious beliefs and we fight for that. But someone’s personal religious beliefs don’t justify breaking the law by discriminating against others in the public sphere,” Mark Silverstein, who directs the ACLU in Colorado, said in an interview with the AP.
But Phillips’ attorney, Nicolle Martin, sees it entirely differently. Rather than commerce, she believes the case is predicated upon conscience and personal religious adherence.
“It brings it to the forefront. I just don’t think that we should heighten one person’s beliefs over and above another person’s beliefs,” she told the AP.
“It would force him to choose between his conscience and a paycheck. I just think that’s an intolerable choice,” Martin added of her client’s choices moving forward.
Christian bakers across America seem to be under fire, as the issues of religious freedom, gay marriage and business rights all seem to be converging. With same-sex matrimony gaining both legislative and moral acceptance in some areas, a conundrum has developed. Recently, TheBlaze told the story of Melissa and Aaron Klein, who have faced a similar battle in Oregon.
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