DENVER (CBS4) – A baker in Lakewood who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because he says it would violate his religious beliefs is asking the Colorado Court of Appeals for help.
Both sides presented their case on Tuesday and they both made compelling arguments, according to CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd.
Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips says he’s not opposed to making cakes for gay couples such as birthday cakes, holiday cakes and graduation cakes. It’s cakes for gay marriages he says he can’t do based on his religious beliefs.
But the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado says if he’s going to open a business to the public he has to make all services available to everyone in the public.
The Colorado Court of Appeals is the latest stop in the three-year legal battle that’s tested the boundaries of religious freedom. Phillips says the government can’t force him to create something in violation of his religion.
“We still have rights as American citizens to our faith and free speech rights,” Phillips said.
But Charlie Craig and David Mullins say Phillips can’t invoke religion as an excuse to discriminate either.
“A cake shop is a place open to the public, it is a business,” Mullins said. “And as such it is governed by civil laws, and not by religious laws.”
Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after Phillips refused to make them a wedding cake, citing a state law that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. They won, but Phillips appealed saying it’s not about serving individuals who are gay, but rather expressing a message against his religion.
“A government that tells you what you can’t say is bad enough. A government that tells you what you must say, and what you must create, is one that we should all fear,” Phillips’ attorney Nicolle Martin said.
“There’s nothing about baking or selling a cake that reflects an endorsement of anyone’s marriage,” Craig and Mullins’ attorney Ria Mar said. “The refusal to make their full menu of services available to gay and lesbian couples is what’s discriminatory.”
After the state ordered Phillips to make wedding cakes for everyone he stopped making them for anyone. He says it’s cost him 40 percent of his business.
The court isn’t expected to rule for several months. The case will also likely wind up before the state Supreme Court.