The Masterpiece Cakeshop is a small bakery located in a shopping center in Lakewood, Colorado, just west of Denver. The proprietor is Jack Phillips, and he is not simply a baker. Phillips is an artist.
The business website proclaims that for your wedding, birthday, or special occasion, “Phillips creates a masterpiece. Custom designs are his specialty: If you can think it up, Jack can make it into a cake!”
For more than two decades, Phillips grew his business into an award winner, one of the most popular of its kind in the Denver area. But now, despite it being one of their most popular services, the shop is no longer accepting custom wedding cake requests.
Masterpiece and Phillips are embroiled in a highly controversial and public battle that has wound its way to the United States Supreme Court. There will be no wedding cakes, at least until the court makes their ruling.
It all began more than five years ago. In the summer of 2012, a gay couple was planning to get married. Charlie Craig and David Mullins, that couple, wanted their cake designed by Masterpiece.
However, Phillips wouldn’t do it, claiming that his religious beliefs kept him from creating designer cakes for same-sex celebrations. He would, however, sell the couple other baked goods. Craig and Mullins, with the ACLU of Colorado in their corner, decided to literally make a court case out of the refusal.
According to a timeline of the events provided by Kaitlyn Schallhorn for Fox News, in May 2014: “The Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided at a public hearing that Masterpiece had violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act, or CADA. Phillips was ordered to change its company policies as well as offer “comprehensive staff training” to employees. The cake shop was also required to provide quarterly reports about how it handled prospective customers.”
That ruling was just one in a series of court decisions in the five years since the original complaint. The current SCOTUS case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will finally settle that legal battle once and for all.
At issue is a clear attack on individual freedoms. Does the government have the right and ability to force a business owner to create a product that is against their legitimately held personal and/or professional beliefs?
The clear answer for anyone who cares about freedom would be: no, the government has no such right.
The couple wants you to believe that this is a case about gay rights. That is a farce. Phillips was not denying sales to Craig and Mullins. They were free to choose from any number of items available at the shop.
This is about freedom of expression for the artist. Do the research and take a look at Phillips’ specialty work. That is exactly what he is, an artist. To force him to make a gay wedding cake against his legitimately held Christian religious beliefs would actually violate his own rights.
Michael Farriss leads the Alliance Defending Freedom, the organization representing Phillips and Masterpiece in this case. He recently stated the following in a Fox News piece:
“Since the dawn of the republic, our constitutional order has honored individual freedom of mind and accorded citizens the corresponding liberty to speak and refrain from speaking as their conscience directs. Yet this formerly prized feature of our legal system devoted to individual freedom now faces growing opposition.”
That growing opposition largely comes from liberal progressives such as Craig and Mullins. There was a much more appropriate course for the couple. Simply take your business elsewhere. Then ensure that the gay community learned of the Phillips position at the Masterpiece Bakeshop.
One would assume that such an action would cost Phillips some amount of business. If so, that would have to be his price to pay for standing up for his personal beliefs. The market would have spoken.
But as usual, that is not enough for some people. Folks like Craig and Mullins and their ACLU supporters not only want their cake, but they want you to eat it too. They want to force Phillips and you and I to support their beliefs, their lifestyle. If that runs completely counter to our own beliefs, oh well, tough.
As SCOTUS heard the arguments and testimony over the last couple of days, Justice Anthony Kennedy had some common sense comments per Audrey Taylor at ABC News when she reported that Kennedy “acknowledged that civility and “tolerance” is key to any free society but made clear “tolerance must be mutual” and suggested alternative accommodations were “quite possible” since there were other cake shops in the area.”
This is clearly a case that should be, and should have been all along, decided by the marketplace, and not by the courts. But here we are. I hope and pray that the United States Supreme Court stands up for freedom and returns a ruling in favor of Phillips and Masterpiece.