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 baker believes in the biblical authority of God. He also believes he has a God given talent and when combined with biblical authority, he must honor God's vision of marriage. And that is marriage is between a man and a woman. He offered the couple to purchase a cake already made.
The discrimination isn't against them being gay, but it is against gay marriage. He has every right to uphold his beliefs and any government that takes that right away is illegitimate.

Anonymous

7-2 ruling...OUCH!

Joseph Davis

I'm seeing stories that say the ruling was just about the way the baker was treated by the Colorado commission in charge of discrimination, and not about whether the baker could discriminate.

Anonymous

The US is becoming so Liberal that soon the ACLU will defend sex traffickers. I hope and pray that God will touch your hearts. Seeing signs that allow men and women to share a bathroom is disgusting. LBGQ is nothing but letters. As a Christian we love all people but people don'love us. The ACLU defended members of MABL. Men molesting children. I believe that the Bakery and any other company has the right to refuse service. It doesn't matter what a person calls themselves. I take exception to the ACLU. Always have. Something is wrong in America.

Anonymous

Look at that, the ACLU is wrong yet again

RDK3

As usual, the ACLU slants and prevaricates on data. You didn't include the fact that the baker offered to put them in touch with another baker who would make the cake - but of course that isn't good enough for you folks. I am waiting for the day when one of the LGBT and whatever other letter there is denies service to a heterosexual couple. I doubt seriously if you or your organization would have anything to do with a complaint registered. Would you?

Anonymous

haha you lost

Anonymous

You say in your article that the baker refused to serve the two gays. I believe he said that he would sell them any cake he had in the shop, but he wouldn't bake a wedding cake for them. That seems like a big difference.
I am sure this place of business was targeted by the gays. I doubt the ACLU would defend a Conservative that asked a gay T shirt maker to print up some NRA shirts when the gay refused.

Anonymous

There is a lot about the case that is vacant from the article. He did not refuse to bake a cake for them. He refused to bake the custom cake that they wanted. The custom cake they wanted was shaped like a penis. He had several pre made wedding cake designs that he would have been more than willing to sell to them. If he refused to sell anything to the gay couple then yes he would be in the wrong and it would be discrimination. Refusing to bake a penis cake for a weddin* is not discrimination. A straight couple asking for the penis cake would have been rejected as well.

Anonymous

ACLU gets the law wrong again - SHOCKED! The ACLU is the biggest punchline in the legal community.

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