On Monday, the Supreme Court said that next term it will consider the appeal of a Denver baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.
In July 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their wedding which would take place in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages were legal at the time. When the couple arrived, owner Jack Phillips refused to sell and design them a cake, saying that his religious beliefs would not allow him and that they should go to another bakery that could accommodate them.
The couple filed a complaint and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in 2014 that Phillips had violated the state’s public accommodations law. The law prohibits public businesses from refusing service to customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
Supreme court justices voted to hear an appeal from Phillips, who is arguing that he deserved a religious exemption based on his 1st Amendment rights. His lawyers say that he has also refused to make Halloween cakes or create cakes that reportedly have “anti-American or anti-family themes.”
Two years ago the Supreme Court turned down a similar appeal for a wedding photographer from New Mexico who declined to photograph a lesbian couple’s wedding and was found to have violated state civil rights laws. Before this announcement, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union cautioned that if the Supreme Court took the case it could open a “gaping hole” in civil rights laws if businesses can cite religious beliefs when they don’t want to serve certain customers.