“T.J.” and Matt are gay, but they support the Colorado bakery owner fighting a legal battle for his right, on religious grounds, to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
Standing outside the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, the bakery at the center of the court case that goes before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, they explained why they support its owner, Jack Phillips.
“We’re here to buy stuff from him,” Matt said, in a video he and T.J. made for Alliance Defending Freedom, “and support him, because we don’t think any artist should be forced to create for something that violates their beliefs.”
The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that litigates for religious liberty, will represent Phillips in that Supreme Court hearing in December.
The legal group posted T.J. and Matt’s video on its Facebook page Monday.
A second video, posted Tuesday, features Kristen Waggoner, the ADF lawyer who will represent Phillips at the Supreme Court next month.
Waggoner says in her video that defending Phillips’ case represents defending not just his but everyone else’s right to free expression and free exercise of their religious faith.
“If we want freedom of expression for ourselves,” Waggoner says, “if we want the free exercise of religion for ourselves, then we have to support that right for others, even those we disagree with.
“We also know that civil liberties travel together,” she continued, noting that even if someone doesn’t care about religious freedom, “if we care about economic liberty … what we can see from other countries that don’t have religious freedom, is they also don’t have robust freedom in other areas.
“So we sink or swim together, no matter what our beliefs are on marriage, and this case will affect all of us.”
Phillips’ case began in 2012, when a homosexual couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission against him after he declined to make a wedding cake for them.
An administrative law judge ruled against Phillips in December 2013, “saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment,” according to the ADF’s website.
“The commission ordered Jack and his staff to either violate Jack’s faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes, which was approximately 40 percent of Jack’s business.”
The ADF appealed Phillips’ case, and the Supreme Court announced in June that it would hear the appeal.