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.

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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.

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Anonymous

The ACLU throws in a case to try to protect speech rights of some radical right wingers just to try to say they are using the same rules for all, but it's clear they are a far left leaning organization. This case is a perfect example of where you would think they would be protecting speech rights, but they are trying to lead an agenda instead.

Deum

I'm seeing a lot of red herrings trying to use religion to justify discrimination. Having to treat people equally in no way discriminates against someone's religious beliefs. (If it does, it's time to get rid of your religion.) Beyond pathetic how willing Christians are to deny rights of people they don't like, but lose their minds when a non Christan religion does the same to them. Go ahead and tell me you would support the rights of Muslims to deny a Christian anything because said thing goes against what they believe? Because when that happens all of a sudden it's all about being an American and the rights that entails, their religion be damned.

Anonymous

Absolutely would be fine with allowing a Muslim running a Cakeshop to not conduct activity that they could reasonably consider sinful to their behavior as long as a weighing of interests took place. This isn't just a Christian thing as there were several tests done on Muslim Bakeries in Michigan and the same denial was given for the exact same reasoning. The fact is that the thought police can't be allowed to force feed people what they should and shouldn't believe. With no real damage due to alternatives, this case should have been thrown out long ago because the law clearly doesn't meet the most narrow definition available as the Supreme Court stated to reach their goal and not interfere with other's Constitutional rights. The law must make exceptions or be thrown out.

Anonymous

Also speak of Red Herrings. The continual comparison of trying to frame this as discrimination against Homosexuals and comparing it to Race or Age just isn't accurate at all. Discrimination is a loaded word and you must realize that people discriminate all the time. Someone going to a Baptist Church over a Catholic Church is discriminating. Someone choosing one friend over another is discriminating over certain characteristics of that friend. It may be one person is more laid back and you discriminate against the more aggressive person. People also discriminate with their actions and choose those actions to try to meet the standard their either they make for themselves or they try to follow a standard that they believe god has made for them. In the case of the Baker, he is choose this type of action so as to not promote activity that he believes dispeases God. Sure, each person has their own interpretation of what God allows them to do and they can follow a Bible or Koran or a number of other articles of faith, but it still wouldn't dismiss the possibility that this person is really trying to avoid supporting an "Action" that would go against their own faith.
If such an action doesn't cause undue or greater harm to another individual, they should be allowed to follow this action. In the case of the Baker, the harm is actually coming to the Baker himself by losing business. Because there are a number of other alternatives and the harm to the potential customer is very small, this action should not threaten anyone and the baker following his own standards of a moral code should be allowed. The only issue comes with the liberal thought police that don't want this to happen. They don't want a higher authority than their rules and regulations to be involved and seemed threatened that others can have a conviction outside of their own ability to understand. This case has always been about Big Brother using the thought police and not really about any type of harmful discrimination.

Alfredo Pons

I think there can't be a discrimination allowance by no reason, skin colour, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc.

Alfredo Pons

I think there can't be a discrimination allowance by no reason, skin colour, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc.

Alfredo Pons

I think there can't be a discrimination allowance by no reason, skin colour, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, etc.

Anonymous

Really, so by no allowance you mean that a Pastor providing marriage services "must" provide those services for anyone wishing to get married? Regardless of religion or LGBTQ status? This pastor "must" go against the very relgion he serves to marry people potentially in a different religion then himself or to a marriage that is prohibited by he religion. Sounds very over the top to me for you to want to force your views down a Pastors throat. And before you say Churches are exempt, let's assume this pastor is not working for the Church at this time.
Here's another example. A guy/gal in Nevada that allows Prostitution has a business. His/Her intent was to have a single person business because they only want to have sex with the other sex. Can someone of the same sex demand based on this law to be served by this person? Why not? The person is selling sex, right?

Anonymous

Ria Tobacco Mar is a bald faced liar. This article is riddled with lies throughout.

Ria wrote:

"But the bakery’s owner refused to serve them solely because they’re a same-sex couple."

This is a lie. The baker's refusal had nothing to do with the clients being a same-sex couple. It had everything to do with decorating a "wedding" cake that was contrary to the bakers religious beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman. These are two very different things.

The gay couple was not turned away because of "who they are" , but because of the specific item they want, a gay wedding cake, which is contrary to this mans religious beliefs. This baker also refuses to do Halloween cakes because of his religious convictions.

The baker is refusing to make a certain TYPE OF CAKE...not refusing to serve a CERTAIN TYPE OF PEOPLE.

Bottom line: The fact that this couple could purchase anything else from the bakery, including a generic cake, is proof that the baker is not discriminating against them because they are gay.

Liane

As a manager at a shop in the same center as Masterpiece Cakes, I believe that anything any business in my area does to discourage their own potential customers detracts from potential customers for my business as well. The enmity that has arisen from this could be discouraging people from driving past my shop to get to the bakery and possibly stopping in. Discrimination is bad for the community!

On a personal level, as a queer person, I dislike looking out my door and seeing a place where I know someone who disagrees with my right to exist does business.

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