Baker who refused to create wedding cake for gay couple says he was not against the couple

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled on the controversial case of Jack Philips, a baker who refused to bake a customized wedding cake for a same-sex couple. They sided with the Colorado baker and he was eager to express his enthusiasm.

During an interview with ABC news, Philips was shown “ecstatic” and relieved, since now he would be able to continue doing wedding cakes. He stated that those kinds of cakes are part of the reason why he entered the baking industry. Given the public attention that the case has given him, he has stated that the past six years have been tough for him financially and emotionally.  He stated in his interview: “We’ve had death threats, we’ve had hundreds of phone calls and emails that were vile and vulgar and vicious.” He reports that one time a death threat was even given to his granddaughter, and the person claimed they were going to the store, which forced both of them to hide in the back of the establishment.

Philips has stated that he was against the baking and creating the cake, and was not directly against the couple who wanted to order it. He stated: “We serve everybody who comes in the shop. We just can’t create every cake they ask us to.” Philips added that he does not create cakes for ideologies that contradict his beliefs, such as Halloween cakes or ones with “Anti-American” themes. He explained his decision last year by saying: “It’s not about turning away these customers, it’s about doing a cake for an event — a religious sacred event — that conflicts with my conscience.”

The encounter debated in court dates back to 2012, where a Denver gay couple went to a Masterpiece Cakeshop store and asked for a customized wedding cake. After Jack Philips refused to create a cake for them, arguing that it would violate his freedom of speech and freedom to hold his own religious beliefs.

The decision dismissed any ruling against the baker and did not reach a conclusion on the topic of whether a business can refuse to serve people from the LGBT+ community. Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed the jury’s decision and claimed that the previous set of actions taken against Jack Phillips had been done under an Anti-religious bias by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Kennedy released a statement with the majority’s decision, where he said that “The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.” He highlighted that, while listening to the defense’s arguments, the commissioner seemed “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs.”  Other attorneys have stated that the Commission should have shown tolerance towards both the people who filed the claim and the baker, which they didn’t do in the case of the latter.

The support that this case’s defense has received has raised major concerns from activist groups since it would indicate a possible government roll-back on protecting groups that have historically been discriminated. They believe that the government’s approach to the case could undermine laws that protect minorities and possibly hurt them. One particular instance that caused controversy was the fact that the court refused to address the broader question of how American laws would approach businesses that refuse to serve gay or lesbian couples in the future, purposefully dodging a member’s question on the topic.

The couple who presented the formal public complaint stated that the case symbolized “the rights of gay people to receive equal service in business … about basic access to public life.”  After Monday’s ruling, the couple stated: “Today’s decision means our fight against discrimination and unfair treatment will continue…We brought this case because no one should have to face the shame, embarrassment, and humiliation of being told ‘we don’t serve your kind here’ that we faced, and we will continue fighting until no one does.”

Featured Image via Flickr / Ted Eytan

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