Colorado's Momentous Decision On Gay Wedding Cakes

by Hilary Weaver

OK, I've got a problem with anyone who keeps anyone else from eating cake. But my cake-rage tops the charts when I find out the person isn't allowed to purchase and consume said fluffy confection because he or she is gay. In July 2012, Masterpiece Cakeshop, based in Lakewood, Colorado, refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The owner of the shop, Jack Phillips, turned down Charlie Craig and David Mullins when the couple ordered a cake for their wedding three summers ago. Phillips cited his religious beliefs as the main motivation for his refusal, saying that he would be violating his god-given artistic talents. The Colorado Court of Appeals said Phillips' decision violated the state's public accommodations law, and the unanimous ruling in favor of the gay wedding cake handed down Thursday proved that everyone — the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, et. al. — needs to get with the program and stop discriminating against same sex-couples.

Pizza and cake are arguably two of the most treasurable food items on this earth, and I'm frankly confused and disappointed as to why the two are linked with discrimination. Memories Pizza, in Walkerton, Indiana, took on a heap of controversy earlier this year when the owner refused to cater for a same-sex wedding. After closing its doors for eight days, the pizza shop reopened. But Indiana operates under a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow business owners to defend against laws they claim create a substantial burden on their religious beliefs. Opponents of the act argued that would theoretically allow businesses to refuse services to gay customers.

But three years after Phillips' decision not to bake the cake, his state finally piped up about it. The Colorado Court of Appeals called the baker's behavior "discrimination." The court announced that the bakery refused the couple service solely based on their sexual orientation, which is just not cool and also, according to the state, illegal. The three-judge panel explained this in their decision.

But for their sexual orientation, Craig and Mullins would not have sought to enter into a same-sex marriage, and but for their intent to do so, Masterpiece would not have denied them its services.

The Huffington Post reported that a large part of the decision was based on the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA), which works to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Colorado is one of 22 states that has laws set up against discrimination. So, we've got 28 more to go, and after the U.S. Supreme Court laid down the law on marriage, it might be time those states start to make things happen.

After June's Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Colorado is actually following suit with the same tone of equality. The Washington Post reported Colorado's decision was also based on what the First Amendment constitutes as free speech. Based on the First Amendment, the decision might have been different if the couple had requested a specific inscription on the cake with which the baker did not agree.

We recognize that a wedding cake, in some circumstances, may convey a particularized message celebrating same-sex marriage and, in such cases, First Amendment speech protections may be implicated. However, we need not reach this issue…. Phillips denied Craig’s and Mullins’ request without any discussion regarding the wedding cake’s design or any possible written inscriptions.

The Washington Post reported the First Amendment does not mandate religious exemptions; it's a "neutral and generally applicable" law. So, in this case, Phillips could not deny the couple's request based on his religious views alone.

So when it comes down to it, this was pure and simple discrimination, and Colorado's put a stop to it. This has been a momentous summer for equality in the United States; it's time everyone and every state recognized that progress.

Images: Giphy (1)