The Supreme Court just handed down its much-awaited verdict in the case of a Christian baker from Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The baker, Jack Phillips, cited his religious beliefs as the reason for denying the couple service, and today a majority of the Supreme Court justices sided with him.
In a 7-2 decision, the court said Phillips was within his rights to rebuff the gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, in 2012. SCOTUS ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s handling of the case against Phillips infringed on his religious freedom and thus violated his religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Commission had previously stated that Phillips was in violation of an anti-discrimination law that bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. The Supreme Court, however, labeled the Commission hostile toward Phillips and said it was “inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” according to Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Court’s five conservative justices were in lock-step in their decision and were joined by two of the bench’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. Kennedy’s ruling went on to say, “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was joined by Justice Sonya Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion and argued that “when a couple contacts a bakery for a wedding cake, the product they are seeking is a cake celebrating their wedding—not a cake celebrating heterosexual weddings or same sex weddings—and that is the service (the couple) were denied.”
Essentially, Kennedy and the six other Justices are claiming that the decision in this case is specific to just this case and based mostly on a mishandling of Phillips’ rights at the hands of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. However, you need to read the fine print to understand that. At a glance, which is the way most Americans will see this news, the story is SCOTUS saying the baker can discriminate against gays. He doesn’t have to make a wedding cake for them because, in his opinion, his religion says it’s okay to discriminate against some people.
Perhaps now that this precedent has been set florists and wedding planners and maybe even photographers will breathe a collective sigh of relief knowing they will no longer be forced to endorse gay marriage by taking some small part in a same sex wedding. I’m obviously being sarcastic here, but discrimination really pisses me off. If you want to be a bigot or a homophobe, then just be one. Don’t hide behind your religion! And don’t tell me I’m anti-religion either. I’ve got 12 years of Catholic school under my belt, and I’ll out-Bible you any day of the week.
There has to be a better way to practice your religion than by pointing a disapproving finger at everyone around you. I wish other truly religious people would step forward at a time like this to explain the spirit of the “laws” put forth in the Bible. Unfortunately Mr. Phillips is front and center to represent religious liberty at the moment, so it is to him that I address the following.
If it is so vitally important for you to prove your Christianity through your work and who you decide to serve, then let’s really take this as far as we can. Before you jump in to make that wedding cake for a heterosexual couple, please make sure this is the first marriage for both and that premarital sex was off the table as well. And those cupcakes for the baptism? Don’t forget to verify the baby’s parents were married prior to his conception and birth. We certainly wouldn’t want to endorse a bastard!
I can only imagine how much time and energy will go into your vetting all prospective clients to guarantee they get your personal stamp of approval. It’s a lot of work, but based on how hard you fought against working with Mr. Mullins and Mr. Craig, I bet it will be a piece of cake for you.
On a less snarky note, I have a legitimate question for you, Mr. Phillips: Do your views pertain exclusively to orders outside the bakery or does your religious litmus test for clients extend to counter service as well? Will you refuse to serve me, a gay man, and by extension my three daughters and my husband should we wander into your establishment hoping to enjoy something sweet? Maybe you should put up a big sign in your front window making that distinction clear so as to avoid any embarrassing situations where a heathen like myself makes the honest mistake that a bakery would serve everyone. Make that sign as big as you can so everyone knows just how big a Christian you really are.