DENVER, CO, June 2, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Colorado board has ruled that a Christian business owner must make wedding cakes for homosexual "marriages" despite his religious objections.
Business owner Jack Phillips came under legal fire in 2012, when he refused to bake a cake for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, who had traveled to Massachusetts for a marriage license, and wanted to celebrate in their home state. They sued on the basis of a state law that prevents the application of religious beliefs if one owns a business.
The Commission's ruling, which was issued verbally on Friday, orders Phillips to report every three months for the next two years on anti-discrimination training for his staff, and any customers who are refused service at his establishment.
"I can believe anything I want, but if I'm going to do business here, I'd ought to not discriminate against people," said one of the Civil Rights Commission's seven members in a public statement.
Phillips' lawyer, Nicolle Martin, rejected the member's reasoning. “In America, we don’t separate a person’s creative expression from what he believes," she said. "Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic and creative talents to promote a message with which he disagrees."
Martin, who is allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), said she is "considering an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals."
ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco told LifeSiteNews that "the Commission did not give an explanation" of how its reasoning is consistent with the First Amendment. "It basically said discrimination is bad, this is discrimination, so our client loses. The Commission failed to wrestle at all with the First Amendment issues, but largely dismissed them as subordinate to the state’s public accommodation law.”
"We are claiming that the public accommodation, when enforced in a manner that compels our client to use his artistic talents and abilities to create expression he disagrees with on religious grounds, violates his First Amendment rights," he said.
Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, told LifeSiteNews that he agrees "freedom of religion is the first freedom in our Constitution. And as such, it ought to trump such things as non-discrimination that are designed to attack freedom of religion. The First Amendment ought to trump such laws with ease."
"Gay activists have gone from asking for tolerance to demanding conformity, backed by the power of government,” he said. "This particular case is not much different from the New Mexico photographer case, or the florist in Oregon, or the other dozen or so public accommodations laws that have cropped up since the early 2000s."
Hausknecht says this case “is no different than a Jewish painter being asked to paint a picture of Hitler, or a kosher butcher asked to provide pork at a wedding, or a Muslim caterer forced to provide alcohol."
"Could a gay photographer be forced to provide a wedding at the Westboro Baptist Church?" he asked.
Phillips, who was defiant to reporters after the Commission's ruling, said that Masterpiece no longer has to make wedding cakes because of sales of cookies and brownies to supporters. His business more than doubled after the lawsuit was filed.
Phillips has previously said that “If gays come in and want to order birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever.”
He says "it's just the wedding cake" that is problematic, "not the people, not their lifestyle.”