The Supreme Court has set up a showdown of LGBTQ rights versus ‘religious freedom’

Charlie Craig, left, and his husband Dave Mullins prepare to play cards while hanging out together after work at their home in Westminster, Colorado.
Image: Brennan Linsley/AP/REX/Shutterstock

The Supreme Court has set up a battle between the rights of LGBTQ Americans and proponents of “religious freedom.”

On Monday, the court agreed to hear an October appeal by the owner of a Colorado cake shop who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012.

The owner, Jack Phillips, has said his religion prohibits him from providing cakes for same-sex weddings, and he won’t make baked goods for Halloween celebrations or anything that’s “adult-themed,” either. He believes baking a cake for a same-sex wedding implies that he condones same-sex marriage, a message he doesn’t want to send.

The couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, filed a complaint after Phillips denied them service in 2012. They’d planned to marry in Massachusetts, since same-sex marriage wasn’t legal nationwide at the time, and hold a reception in Colorado. The couple wanted a cake for the reception, but Phillips told them that fulfilling their request violated his religious beliefs and that other cake shops would be able to help.

In 2015, the Colorado Court of Appeals determined that making a cake for Craig and Mullins didn’t mean Phillips condoned same-sex marriage. The ruling also stated that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act “prohibits places of public accommodations from basing their refusal to serve customers on their sexual orientation…”

In a Supreme Court briefing filed by Phillips’s lawyer, the lawyer argued that customers refused by Phillips could “easily” get a cake from another bakery.

The couple’s lawyer likened this argument to refusing black customers food at a restaurant “in 1966” because they could find food elsewhere.

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