Discrimination case caused turmoil for Colorado rights panel

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The baker, Jack Phillips, appealed to the Supreme Court after both the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and its Court of Appeals ruled that he had discriminated against a same-sex couple who asked the bakery to make their wedding cake.

Liberal justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined the conservative justices in the outcome.

In the court's opinion, Kennedy wrote situations like these "must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to honest religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and serves in an open market".

U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled 7-2 in Phillip's favor on Monday in a narrow decision that applied specifically to his case and did not set a broader precedent.

The ruling has been called narrow because it merely overturned a decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and didn't address the larger issue of whether people's religious beliefs outweigh the civil rights of gay people.

While those who spoke Monday emphasized that the ruling focused on the commission's handling of the case, and not its merits, the decision still signaled a setback for the LGBTQ community. In doing so, the commission violated his religious rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In other words, Phillips's religious beliefs about marriage-beliefs, by the way, which are orthodox teachings in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam-are not to be taken seriously. "This happens to people in every kind of business, every day".

"I don't create cakes for Halloween", Phillips said. Rather than determine whether religious artisans and businesses have a right to discriminate, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a majority opinion that deftly dodged the hot-button question before the court.

Phillips said the response of the community has been "overwhelmingly supportive", as "my community realized how important this case is and how important it is to protect the freedom of, creative professionals myself".

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In this case, he said he offered to make Mullins and Craig other desserts for their wedding, but refused design a wedding cake due to his religious beliefs. Colorado state courts upheld the determination.

The case marked a test for Kennedy, who has authored significant rulings that advanced gay rights but also is a strong advocate for free speech rights and religious freedom. But the official expressions of hostility to religion in some of the commissioners' comments were inconsistent with that requirement, and the Commission's disparate consideration of Phillips' case compared to the cases of the other bakers suggests the same.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Craig and Mullins, said in a statement that while their clients lost the decision, the high court "did not accept arguments that would have turned back the clock on equality by making our basic civil rights protections unenforceable".

The US Supreme Court today (June 4) issued a ruling overturning that order. Kristin Waggoner, Phillips' attorney who is based at conservative Christian NGO Alliance Defending Freedom, saw the case as a huge win.

"When it comes to weddings, it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion", the ruling states.

Several legal disputes are pending over wedding services, similar to the Phillips case.

"Whether it is with Hobby Lobby (2014), Little Sisters of the Poor (2016), or Masterpiece Bakery (2018), the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly issued decisions that correctly limit the power of the government to coerce its citizens to act in a manner that violates a deeply held religious belief", Teasley said.

Q: Can a gay couple in OH get a cake from a baker who opposes same-sex marriage?