A commission’s ruling that Colorado baker Jack Phillips must bake same-sex “wedding” cakes forces him to choose between violating his conscience and supporting his family, the baker’s lawyer said.
“In America, we don’t separate a person’s creative expression from what he believes. Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic and creative talents to promote a message with which he disagrees,” said Nicolle Martin, the lawyer representing Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo.
Martin, an attorney allied with the national legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, said May 30 that an appeal is being considered because the government “should not force him to choose between his faith and his livelihood.”
Phillips declined to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s “wedding” reception almost two years ago. He has said that his Christian faith prohibits him from doing so. Based on his beliefs, he also declines to make cakes for Halloween and bachelor parties.
He has explained that he is willing to serve gay individuals – by making birthday or graduation cakes – but cannot use his creative talents to endorse a gay “wedding” ceremony because doing so would violate his religious beliefs.
“Gay marriage” is not recognized by the state of Colorado.
The gay couple filed a discrimination complaint against Phillips’ store in July 2012.
Colorado’s seven-member Civil Rights Commission reaffirmed a December 2013 ruling from administrative judge Robert N. Spencer that the shop illegally discriminated against the two men.
Phillips had appealed the ruling to the commission on free speech and religious freedom grounds. His lawyer said that creative cake-making is a type of artistic expression that is protected under the First Amendment.
The commission’s ruling requires Phillips to submit quarterly reports for the next two years showing he is changing company policies and training employees to avoid discriminatory practices. He must report any potential customers who are turned away, the Denver Post reports.
“Any person doing business in Colorado has to recognize that they have to do business in an ethical and law abiding way and the law says you cannot discriminate,” commission vice-chair Raju Jairam said.
After Friday’s ruling, the baker said he would not violate his beliefs.
“I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down,” he said on Friday, according to the Denver Post.
Colorado law bans discrimination on several grounds, including religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.