Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - A Colorado legal case made its way to the Supreme Court Tuesday. The case is between a cake shop proprietor in Colorado and a gay couple looking for a wedding cake five years back. The questions at hand are over discrimination and freedoms protected under the First Amendment.

Jack Phillips says he shouldn't have to violate his religious beliefs to provide for his family and employees.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission pits a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, against Jack Phillips, proprietor of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. The couple tried to buy a wedding cake from Phillips five years ago but he refused saying same-sex marriage goes against his religion. The legal team for Craig and Mullins took to the Supreme Court to argue this is discrimination.

“A ruling in the bakery’s favor could embolden discrimination in a variety of contexts,” said Ria Mar, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Mar and her defense team reiterated many times Craig and Mullins are a protected class with a right to service. Colorado has anti-discrimination laws that say if a business opens its doors to the public that means everybody, including gay couples.

“What the law is regulating is the conduct of discrimination in sales. And that law applies whether or not the product sold is artistic,” said Mar.

The legal team for Phillips made the case that he speaks through his art, something that should be protected under the Constitution. Questions arose as to what constitutes art and whether food should have protections. Phillips says his craft is art, and he should not be compelled to support a same-sex wedding.

“That is not freedom. That is not tolerance,” said Phillips.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said in handling this case, the State of Colorado has been neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs. Kennedy is thought to be the swing vote that could tip the scales.

“It’s hard to believe that the government is forcing me to choose between providing for my family and my employees, and violating my relationship with god,” said Phillips.

As of now there is no known timeline for a decision in this case.

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