Justices Side with Colorado Baker on Same-Sex Wedding Cake

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After stepping in to congratulate Phillips, Pastor Gino Geraci said he opposes all kinds of discrimination and said he wished the Supreme Court had offered more clear guidance about the interplay between freedom of speech, business and religious freedom.

The court found hostility in how Phillips" case compared to the cases of other bakers who refused to make cakes resembling an open Bible with verses on it, with one cake including an image of two groomsmen, holding hands, with a red "X' over the image, according to Ginsburg's dissent. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. The cause of LGBT rights was compromised in Colorado, the court said, when the Civil Rights Commission there showed hostility toward Jack Phillips' honest religious beliefs. In the end, the decision was modest enough to attract the votes of liberal and conservative justices on a subject that had the potential for sharp division.

"The Civil Rights Commission's treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs that motivated his objection", Kennedy wrote.

Geraci said people ought to be able to maintain their deeply held religious opposition to gay marriage and to "mourn" certain behaviors while also protecting individual rights for everyone else.

"Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples can not be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth", Kennedy wrote.

"The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to honest religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market", Kennedy wrote.

Lambda Legal-Midwest Legal Assistant Elissa Jeffers explained that this ruling does not change the law and that Illinois' LGBTQ non-discrimination law is one of the strongest in the country.

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"The court has answered a few questions and generated many more", said Tobias Barrington Wolff, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake. At that time, gay marriage was not yet legal in Colorado. Without ultimately deciding the claim brought by Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, the court instead ruled that the baker's religious beliefs were not accorded proper respect.

Gov. Casey Cagle, who is facing Secretary of State Brian Kemp in the Republican runoff for governor July 24, said the ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed the constitution's protection of religious expression. Phillips has said a backlash against his business has left him struggling to keep the shop afloat. The only thing that seems certain is that the Colorado case was not the justices' last word on the topic.

As evidence of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's hostility toward Phillips' religious views, Kennedy cites language the commissioners used as they heard the case in 2014, including one commissioner's words that religious views are "one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use". Phillips told them he does not "create" wedding cakes for same-sex couples because he feels it would be a personal endorsement of an event celebrating something that goes against Bible teachings. "This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack's beliefs about marriage".

American Jewish groups expressed mixed reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on a controversial Colorado baker's refusal to serve a gay couple.

The case became a cultural flashpoint in the United States, underscoring the tensions between gay rights proponents and conservative Christians.

The government can not impose regulations hostile to citizens' religious beliefs, the ruling said. And the case went all the way through the courts up to the Supreme Court. "Phillips was entitled to a neutral decision-maker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered and decided".

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