US Supreme Court backs baker in gay wedding cake case

A wedding cake with a gay couple is seen in this file

A wedding cake with a gay couple is seen in this file

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday ruled in favor of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to lend his artistry to a wedding cake for a same-sex duo, scolding officials from the state for violating the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility to religion. "T$3 he only reason the Commission seemed to supply for its discrimination was that it found Mr. Phillips's religious beliefs 'offensive, '" the concurrence noted.

The narrow ruling does not grant Christians a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, but instead is tailored to specifically address the case that was in front of the court. "It's hard to see the decision setting a precedent".

The court took issue with a Colorado commission and its treatment of Phillips.

"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.

"Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment", ADF Senior Council Kristen Waggoner said. The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker. "But only, as the Court rightly says, if the State's decisions are not infected by religious hostility or bias".

During oral argument in December, Kennedy and other conservative justices had expressed concern about the potential effect on other merchants with strong religious objections to same-sex marriage, from chefs to florists. But the commission violated Phillips' rights, Kennedy said, because its "treatment of his case has some elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs that motivated his objection".

The couple arrived with Craig's mother and a book of ideas, but Phillips cut short the meeting as soon as he learned the cake was to celebrate the couple's marriage.

Harry Shearer, meanwhile, had a "Question for Justice Kennedy: So now an atheist baker can refuse to make a cake for a couple wearing crucifixes?"

In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins visited the Masterpiece bakery and asked its owner, Phillips, to create a cake for their wedding.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the decision so far: This is a ruling against the commission that effectively prosecuted Phillips. "At which point they both stormed out and left", he said.

Justice Ginsburg added that she did not agree with the finding that the Commission acted unfairly, citing "several layers of independent decisionmaking of which the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was but one" in the state case.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was forecast to be the swing vote, wrote the majority opinion, saying Phillips' Free Exercise rights were violated because the Commission showed hostility to his religious beliefs when they were making the decision.

"Colorado can treat a baker who discriminates based on sexual orientation differently from a baker who does not discriminate on that or any other prohibited ground", she wrote.

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