Cakes & Cupid
It’s getting more baffling and litigious when it comes to the clashing of individual rights, as in the case of the two guys who headed for court after their request for a wedding cake was turned down by a Christian baker.
In the thinking of the men getting hitched, it was a straight case (well, not completely) for equal treatment and non-discrimination.
For the baker who brought his spiritual mindset into the cake transaction before the wedding purchase even got to the point of deciding whether the sugar icing flowers on the cake should be light blue roses, pink clematis or white orchids, the power he thought he possessed to decide whether or not to make the cake was rooted in the concepts of personal freedom and religious liberty. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents Congress from making any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
In the 7-2 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, “the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake to celebrate the marriage of a same-sex couple because of a religious objection,” reported Ariane de Vogue, CNN’s Supreme Court correspondent.
“The court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward the baker based on his religious beliefs,” explained CNN’s court reporter.
The court’s ruling, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, held that members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed animus toward baker Jack Phillips specifically when they suggested his claims of religious freedom were made to justify discrimination.
Kristen Waggoner, senior counsel at the Alliance for Defending Freedom, represented Phillips in the case.
Phillips “serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs,” Waggoner said in a statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision: “Creative professionals who serve all people should be free to create art consistent with their convictions without the threat of government punishment.”
Continued Waggoner, “It’s been a long, six-year battle where his family business, his income, has been hanging in the balance. He’s also, obviously, handling a large volume of calls himself and looking out for the protection of his family, to be candid.”
Phillips, opening his bakery in 1993, knew “at the outset that there would be certain cakes he would decline to make in order to abide by his religious beliefs,” reported CNN, noting that Phillips has “declined to make cakes to celebrate Halloween.”
De Vogue described the initial encounter between the gay couple and the devout baker: “In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig asked Phillips to bake a cake to celebrate their planned wedding. Phillips said he couldn’t create the product they were looking for without violating his faith. The Bible says, ‘In the beginning there was male and female,’ explained Phillips. He offered to make any other baked goods for the men. ‘At which point they both stormed out,’ ” Phillips said.
In short, the nationally publicized dispute and pricey legal battle for over a half decade could have all been avoided if the guys would have just been OK with a table piled high with mini cinnamon rolls on a stick.
Ralph R. Reiland is associate professor of economics emeritus at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.