By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com June 07 2013 5:02 PM ET
A Denver bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple is about to face the legal heat.
The Colorado Attorney General’s office last week filed a discrimination complaint against the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who last year declined to make a cake for Denver couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, the Associated Press reports. The couple had their marriage ceremony in Massachusetts and wanted the cake for a hometown celebration with family and friends.
Jack Phillips, one of the owners of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had cited his Christian beliefs in refusing the men’s business. “We would close down the bakery before we compromised our beliefs,” Phillips told a television interviewer last summer. To another couple who sought to place an order, he reportedly said making a cake for a same-sex wedding would be like making one for a pedophile celebration.
And just recently, a lesbian couple who had been turned away by Masterpiece Cakeshop when they tried to order cupcakes for their commitment ceremony undertook the experiment of calling the bakery to order a cake for a dog wedding — an order the shopkeepers happily accepted. A newspaper in Oregon had done a similar experiment with a bakery there that had turned down a same-sex couple’s request, finding the business was willing to provide cakes for divorce celebrations and pagan observances.
Mark Silverstein, legal director for the Colorado chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which initiated the complaint process for Mullins and Craig, told the AP he respects the bakery owners’ right to their religious beliefs, “but someone’s personal religious beliefs don’t justify breaking the law by discriminating against others in the public sphere.”
Phillips’s lawyer, Nicolle Martin, countered that the case is about “conscience” rather than “commerce,” adding, “I just don’t think that we should heighten one person’s beliefs over and above another person’s beliefs.”
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is scheduled to hear the case in September.