In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with “religious liberty”, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
In July 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Denver’s Masterpiece Cake Shop, owned by Jack Phillips (above) , looking for a cake to celebrate the couple’s upcoming nuptials.
Phillips denied the couple’s request and later admitted he had turned away other same-sex couples as a matter of policy.
In 2013, a judge ruled against Phillips. The Colorado Civil Rights Division’s [CCRD’s] decision noted evidence in the record that Phillips had expressed willingness to take a cake order for the “marriage” of two dogs, but not for the commitment ceremony of two women, and that he would not make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration “just as he would not be willing to make a pedophile cake.”
Phillips and his lawyers, anti-gay legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, have been appealing the ruling since, and losing
Acting Solicitor Gen. Jeffrey B. Wall filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the cake maker’s rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion should prevail over a Colorado civil rights law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“A custom wedding cake is a form of expression,” he said. “It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.” And as such, the baker has a free-speech right under the 1st Amendment to refuse to “express” his support for a same-sex marriage, Wall argued.
The case of the Colorado cake maker has emerged as the latest battle in the culture wars. It is a clash between the religious rights of a conservative Christian against gay rights and equal treatment for same-sex couples.
The DOJ’s decision to support Phillips is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights and to advance new policies on the issue.
Read the brief here.