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Baker turns away gay couple. What do you think?

Posted by on Jun. 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM
  • 12 Replies

DENVER (AP) -- A gay couple is pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a wedding cake to honor their Massachusetts ceremony, and alleging that the owners have a history of turning away same-sex couples.

As more states move to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions, the case highlights a growing tension between gay rights advocates and supporters of religious freedom.

"Religious freedom is a fundamental right in America and it's something that we champion at the ACLU," said Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the group in Colorado, which filed the complaint on behalf of the couple. "We are all entitled to our religious beliefs and we fight for that. But someone's personal religious beliefs don't justify breaking the law by discriminating against others in the public sphere."

The attorney for Jack Phillips, one of the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop, sees it differently.

"We don't believe that this is a case about commerce. At its heart, this is a case about conscience," said Nicolle Martin. She said the matter is important because it will serve as an example for future cases across the country as more gay couples gain legal recognitions for their relationships.

"It brings it to the forefront. I just don't think that we should heighten one person's beliefs over and above another person's beliefs," she said.

The Colorado Attorney General's office filed a formal complaint last week after the ACLU initiated the process last year on behalf of David Mullins and Charlie Craig. The case is scheduled for a hearing in September before Colorado's Civil Rights Commission.

Nationwide, 12 states now allow gay marriage, with Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota doing so this year. And in a year that Colorado lawmakers approved civil unions, they also elected the first gay Speaker of the House.

But Colorado's civil union law does not provide religious protections for businesses despite the urging of Republican lawmakers. Democrats argued that such a provision would give businesses cover to discriminate.

Mullins, 28, and Craig, 33, filed the discrimination complaint against Phillips after visiting his business in suburban Denver last summer. After a few minutes looking at pictures of different cakes, the couple said Phillips told them he wouldn't make one for them when he found out it was to celebrate their wedding in Colorado after they got married in Massachusetts. Phillips has said making a wedding cake for gay couples would violate his Christian religious beliefs, according to the complaint.

"We were all very upset, but I was angry and I felt dehumanized and mortified," Mullins said. He said he vented his frustration on Facebook and was surprised at how "the story ended up catching fire," with responses from local media and bloggers in other countries posting about it.

"We felt that the best way to honor the support that they had given us was to follow this complaint through," he said. In the process, the ACLU said they found out about two other gay couples who had been refused a wedding cake from the same shop. Both have written affidavits in support of the discrimination claim.

Recent advances on gay rights only underscore Colorado's difficult past on the issue. In 2006, voters banned gay marriage. More notably, in 1992, voters approved a ban on municipal antidiscrimination laws to protect gays, leading some to brand Colorado a "hate state." Four years later, the U.S. Supreme Court said the law, known as Amendment 2, was unconstitutional.

The complaint seeks to force Masterpiece Cakeshop to "cease and desist" the practice of refusing wedding cakes for gay couples, and to tell the public that their business is open to everyone.

If Phillips loses the case and refuses to comply with the order, he would face fines of $500 per case and up to a year in jail, his attorney said.

"It would force him to choose between his conscience and a paycheck. I just think that's an intolerable choice," Martin said.

 

So, discuss below...

What do you think of this?  Should the baker be able to deny service based on beliefs?  Or is the baker guilty of discrimination?

 

by on Jun. 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM
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Replies (1-10):
christyg
by on Jun. 7, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I think a business owner should be able to do whatever he/she wants with their own business. 

the3Rs
by Platinum Member on Jun. 7, 2013 at 12:49 PM

I'll be honest - with a less than popular opinion I'm sure - but if it's a privately held business, they have the right to refuse service to anyone they want.  If it goes against their religious convictions, so be it.  I'm on the side of the bakery.

leahbeah143
by Leah on Jun. 7, 2013 at 1:03 PM

 I think this happened recently in Oregon as well. I think the bakery has the right to choose who they serve. It doesn't sound like the bakery was mean to them or anything.

If someone doesn't want to serve me for whatever reason, I'd go somewhere else. It wouldn't even cross my mind to try to sue.

mickstinator
by on Jun. 7, 2013 at 2:23 PM
1 mom liked this

I don't think the business owner should be in any legal trouble for turning them away.

I do think, however, they deserve a lot of bad publicity for being such homophobic asshats. 

mickstinator
by on Jun. 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM


Quoting leahbeah143:

 I think this happened recently in Oregon as well. I think the bakery has the right to choose who they serve. It doesn't sound like the bakery was mean to them or anything.

If someone doesn't want to serve me for whatever reason, I'd go somewhere else. It wouldn't even cross my mind to try to sue.

Not that I disagree with your overall point, but how is it not mean to turn a couple away for being gay?

paytonleximomma
by Member on Jun. 7, 2013 at 2:34 PM

The bakery has the right to refuse service if they so wish.  It might suck but that is just how things are.

leahbeah143
by Leah on Jun. 7, 2013 at 3:26 PM
Quoting mickstinator:


Quoting leahbeah143:

 I think this happened recently in Oregon as well. I think the bakery has the right to choose who they serve. It doesn't sound like the bakery was mean to them or anything.

If someone doesn't want to serve me for whatever reason, I'd go somewhere else. It wouldn't even cross my mind to try to sue.

Not that I disagree with your overall point, but how is it not mean to turn a couple away for being gay?

Not that it's not mean to turn somebody away for being gay, but they weren't turning them away to be mean, they felt that their religious beliefs would be compromised if they accepted the job. What I meant by being mean was that they it doesn't say they yelled at them or told them they were going to hell or tried to run them over with their car after hours. They simply said no.
miss_AP
by Member on Jun. 7, 2013 at 4:37 PM

They are a private business, and people are not ENTITLED to their product. They can serve and provide to those they see fit. If you don't like it, go somewhere else...just like people boycotting Wal-Mart and Chik-Fil-A and all sorts of other places. Do I agree with their choice? Absolutely not. But it's their business. 

cjsmom1
by Platinum Member on Jun. 7, 2013 at 6:29 PM
It's the business owners right to turn them away. I see nothing wrong with gay marriage, but I think businesses should have a right to chose whether or not they want to participate in those weddings.
qslaqhay
by Member on Jun. 8, 2013 at 9:31 AM
I hate when they use religion as an excuse to to discriminate and get away with it...
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