Supreme Court takes on new clash of gay rights, religion

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 27, 2017

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a religious liberty case concerning a Colorado cake artist who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception, claiming that to do so violated his religious liberty under the Constitution.

The court took up an appeal by Jack Phillips, a baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, just outside Denver, of a state court ruling that his refusal violated a Colorado anti-discrimination law. The justices said Monday, June 26, 2017, they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Florists, bakers, photographers, and other businesses have cited religious and free-speech objections in refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2015 same-sex marriage decision. In prior cases, Gorsuch has embraced an expansive view of religious rights.

The legal fight broke out in 2012 when Phillips told gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig that due to his Christian beliefs, his store's policy was to deny service to customers wanting to purchase cakes to celebrate a same-sex wedding. Twenty-two states include sexual orientation in anti-discrimination laws that bar discrimination in public accommodations.

"The Diocese of Venice will be closely monitoring Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, as it moves through the U.S. Supreme Court next term", Laielli wrote. The couple planned to marry in MA - one of only a handful of states at the time with full and legal marriage equality - and wanted Phillips to provide the cake for the reception. In August 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against Phillips.

Southwest Florida LGBT activist Stephanie Burns said she will be watching the Supreme Court case closely.

"It solidified the right of our community to have a right to public accommodations, so future couples are not turned away from a business because of who they are", Mullins said Monday. A reasonable person would assume the cake expressed the message of the couple, not the person who made it, the courts said. We are all at risk when government is able to punish citizens like Jack just because it doesn't like how he exercises his artistic freedom.

In Monday's unsigned 6-3 opinion in Pavan v. Smith, issued without hearing oral arguments, the high court reversed an Arkansas Supreme Court decision upholding a state law that generally requires the name of a mother's husband to appear on a child's birth certificate.

Colorado did not permit same-sex couples to marry until 2014.

The nine-member Texas court does not discuss the timing of its cases or opinions, but to meet its self-imposed deadline, any opinions in the marriage benefits case are probably finished or almost so.

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