The Colorado agency which punished a baker who declined to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony has ruled that other bakers may refuse to make cakes with messages opposed to gay marriage. Defenders of the censured baker, Jack Phillips, say the commission should be more consistent. “Like the other bakers, Jack happily serves all people but declines to use his artistic talents to create cakes that violate his conscience,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said April 7. He said the commission’s inconsistent rulings mean that the owners of some cake shops may run them according to their beliefs, while Phillips cannot.
“He risks losing his life-long business altogether if he continues to run it consistent with his faith. Such blatant religious discrimination has no place in our society.” Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo. no longer bakes wedding cakes after Colorado’s seven-member Civil Rights Commission ruled that his shop illegally discriminated.
In 2012, he declined a request from two men who wanted him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding reception. Phillips said making the cake would violate his religious beliefs. The commission ruled in favor of a complaint from the two men. It ordered Phillips and his staff to undergo anti-discrimination training and to submit quarterly reports on how he is changing company policies. Phillips has decided not to make any wedding cakes, his only legal option to continue his business without violating his beliefs.
After the controversial treatment of Phillips, a Colorado man named Bill Jack filed complaints with the Civil Rights Division of the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies when three Denver-area bakeries refused to make his requested cakes in March 2014. Jack claimed that Azucar Bakery, Gateaux, and Le Bakery Sensual had discriminated against him because of his Christian religion. Jack had asked Azucar Bakery for cakes shaped like an open Bible. One bore the message that God hates sin and loosely paraphrased a biblical passage, saying “Homosexuality is a detestable sin.” The other said that God loves sinners and that Christ died for us, with an image of an “X” over two groomsmen holding hands.
The bakery declined, saying it considered the phrases to be hateful. Jack told the Christian Post he believes Colorado’s anti-discrimination law is being used “to censor Christian business owners’ free speech” and “to coerce them to participate in events that violate their consciences.” Colorado’s civil rights division said that Azucar Bakery had the right to refuse to make the cakes on the grounds their messages were derogatory, the Colorado NBC affiliate 9 News reports. The shop would have treated any other customer the same way.
The division told Jack there was insufficient evidence to support Jack’s claims, according to the Denver Post. Jack is appealing the decision. Tedesco said the commission was right not to force the cake artists to violate their consciences, adding, “clearly the commission should have done the same for Jack Phillips.”