The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case: What You Need to Know

Five years ago, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop, a Lakewood, Colorado, bakery to purchase a cake for their wedding reception. But the bakery’s owner refused to serve them solely because they’re a same-sex couple.

Colorado courts found that the bakery discriminated against Dave and Charlie, violating a state law that says businesses open to the public can’t turn away customers based on sexual orientation. Now, the bakery is asking for a “constitutional exemption” —permission to violate the state law based on the owner’s objection to serving gay people.

Here are three things to know about the case, which will be heard by the Court on December 5.

Is the bakery’s argument new? 

No. In the 1960s, Piggie Park barbecue restaurant argued that its owner’s religious beliefs meant it could refuse to serve Black customers. In the 1970s and 1980s, schools claimed that they should be allowed to pay women less than men based on the belief that men should be the head of the household. Time and again, courts have recognized that religious views, no matter how deeply felt, don’t entitle any of us to discriminate. The same is true today.

mytubethumbplay
%3Ciframe%20allowfullscreen%3D%22%22%20frameborder%3D%220%22%20height%3D%22315%22%20src%3D%22https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FnMWLawbBlOc%3Fautoplay%3D1%26version%3D3%22%20thumb%3D%22%2Ffiles%2Fmasterpiececake-560x315_0.jpg%22%20width%3D%22560%22%3E%3C%2Fiframe%3E
Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from youtube.com.


Does this violate the bakery's First Amendment rights?

No. The Colorado anti-discrimination law doesn’t tell the bakery how to make its cakes. What it says is that if the bakery chooses to sell cakes, it can’t refuse to sell them to certain people based on their sexual orientation. The ACLU is proud to defend the First Amendment freedoms of speech and religion. But religious freedom doesn’t give anyone the right to discriminate. If it did, any business would be free to discriminate against almost any of us — members of minority faiths, women, racial minorities, LGBT people — solely based on the owner’s views.

What’s at stake in this case?

This fall the Supreme Court will decide whether businesses that open their doors to the public have a constitutional right to discriminate.

People have deeply held beliefs about all kinds of things. If those beliefs gave anyone the right to discriminate, a tailor shop could refuse to alter a business suit for women, or a bus company could refuse to drive people of different faiths to work. If the bakery has a constitutional right to discriminate, then today it’s Dave and Charlie, tomorrow it could be you, your family members, your friends and your loved ones. Any of us could be turned away simply because of who we are.

View comments (81)
Read the Terms of Use

Anonymous

Hobby Lobby case allowed owners of business to maintain their religious rights which still having the ability to own a business. The need to throw your religious beliefs out the window to be able to conduct business was never meant to happen in the Constitution and the SC made that clear in Hobby Lobby.

D. Rodgers

This reply is addressed to the first "Anonymous" reply to the original post. Apparently you are unaware of the fact that any business that is "open to the public" is NOT a "private" business. For it to be a "private" business, it would have to be a "members only " business." That, of course, is not the case here. Second, NO ONE is asking the owner to "participate" in the actual wedding. Baking a cake DOES NOT constitute participation. Third, NO ONE'S religious beliefs gives them the right to discriminate. The bakery's owner clearly violated the state's anti-discrimination law, and therefore must pay the penalty. Discrimination is NOT only a violation of the law, it is a violation of everything that Jesus stood for.

Anthony E

Sorry, but some business require the employees to take part in the events.

I find men sticking their tongues into other men's mouths repugnant and morally reprehensible.

A photographer who is a Christian should not be forced to be in a place where such objectionable behavior is going on.

And, I am sure that the Supreme Court will agree.

Ryan G

Some people believe black people are "repugnant and morally reprehensible". They still don't have the right to discriminate against them in business.

You aren't forced into any position. They're not knocking on your door saying, "Take this picture or go to jail." They're saying that if you insist on discriminating, you can't run a business violating our anti-discrimination laws. Running a business is a choice, and by running said business, you agree to follow the laws of your state that regulate said businesses.

It's not about what you find objectionable. It's about the fact that the state law protects these people the same way they protect people of other races and religions. If you want to run a business, suck it up. You have to follow the laws like the rest of us. If you can't abide by that, you're not fit to be running a business.

David A

Anthony, you should really think about why you find "men sticking their tongues into other men's mouths repugnant and morally reprehensible". What if it was a black man and a white woman? Or an Asian man and a White woman? Are these morally reprehensible too? Because they were, and not too long ago either.
Could it be that your protests are designed to cover something up?

Dave Payne

Objectionable to whom? Christians? Well then, seems to me that Christians need to get a new faith. Preferably one that doesn't require them to be asshats. Would a man and woman "sticking their tongues into one another's mouths" bother you? If not, why? Because it's "normal"? Says who? You? Your "God"?Men or women showing affection for someone they love doesn't bother me a bit. I'm secure in my heterosexuality. Maybe you're not?
The bottom line is that Colorado State Law says that they can't descriminatre based on sexual orientation and they did. End if story.
Masterpiece Cakes decided to take this to the Supreme Court, not the couple. The bottom line is that if Masterpiece Cakes doesn't want to follow Colorado law then they should close up shop and move to another state that will allow this so very Christian behavior. Whatever state they move to won't be as beautiful or as friendly as Colorado but they'll be able to continue being asshats.
It's funny how I don't believe in the fallacy of a "God" but I'm probably a much better Christian than most Christians.

Anonymous

No reason to bring personal feeling about tongues into the discussion. Freedom of Religion and Freedom of speech are guaranteed in the Constitution and the pursuit of happiness is a right everyone has and has to be weighed against other rights when they come into conflict. The real differentiating factors here are the cakeshop isn't willing to make a cake for a specific occasion, not for a specific person. This same baker would have decided to not provide a Devil Worshiping cake to a person of that religion even though religion is also a protected class.
You mentioned tongues, but can you imagine if a straight guy was to start up a prostitution business in Nevada and one of these guys came into him and demanded to be serviced? This is assuming the Nevada has the same law as Colorado, but it easily could. None of the arguments you are hearing would allow this guy to say no.

Anonymous

Your really fantasize about this to quite a degree ... you should try it !

Amanda

I think the bakers right because of the First Amendment

Anonymous

I think that is clear, but I hope it's because of religious rights and not just speech.

Pages

Stay Informed