Another layer has unfolded for cake artist Jack Phillips. He has asked the Colorado Supreme Court to rule that the government cannot force him to bake a cake in celebration of a same-sex wedding.
In August, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Phillips and his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, must bake cakes for same-sex weddings, even though this violates Phillips’ Christian view on marriage.
“The freedom to live and work consistently with one’s faith is at the heart of what it means to be an American,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco said in a statement. “Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees.”
The lawsuit started in 2012, when same-sex couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after Phillips declined to bake a cake in celebration of their wedding.
Phillips, found to have discriminated against the two men, continues a battle to defend his First Amendment rights.
“We are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living,” said Tedesco, who represents Phillips.
A petition filed to the Colorado Supreme Court on Friday in part states:
Phillips … honors God through his creative work by declining to use his artistic talents to design and create cakes that violate his religious beliefs … This includes cakes with offensive written messages and cakes celebrating events or ideas that violate his beliefs, including cakes celebrating Halloween, anti-American or anti-family themes, atheism, racism, or indecency … He also will not create cakes with hateful, vulgar, or profane messages, or sell any products containing alcohol … Consistent with this longtime practice, Phillips also will not create cakes celebrating any marriage that is contrary to biblical teaching.
“In America, no one should be turned away from a shop or restaurant because of who they are or who they love,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ria Mar argued for Craig and Mullins.
Phillips, who says he doesn’t think he committed an act of discrimination, has opted since March 2014 not to take any new orders for wedding cakes rather than be forced to create them for two men or two women.
“In Colorado, bakers can refuse to make cakes with a message opposing same-sex unions but can be fined out of business if they decline to bake cakes celebrating same-sex unions,” Roger Severino, director of The Heritage Foundation’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, said. “There is something wrong when government respects the freedom of some to run their businesses according to their values while targeting others, especially people of faith, with lawsuits, penalties, and fines.”
In April, Alliance Defending Freedom pointed out that three Denver bakeries were not found guilty of discrimination when a Christian customer was declined a cake that reflected opposition to same-sex marriage, a view that violated the conscience of those cake artists.
“Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views,” ADF lead counsel Nicolle Martin stated. “Forcing people to promote ideas against their will is not an American concept. It undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free.”