State Civil Rights Commission: ‘Let them eat cake’

State Civil Rights Commission: ‘Let them eat cake’

 
COLORADO civil rights commissioners ruled today that a Lakewood Bakery broke Colorado’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell a gay couple a wedding cake.

The bakery brouhaha erupted in 2012 when Charlie Craig and David Mullens tried to order a cake for a party they planned in Colorado after their wedding ceremony in Massachusetts. The bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, touts owner Jack Phillips for his craftsmanship and creativity: “If you can think it up, he can make it into a cake!” it reads.

But for Phillips, who opposes gay marriage, it was unthinkable to concoct a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. He turned down their business, as well as orders from other gay and lesbian couples.

Craig and Mullens filed a discrimination claim under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act that was affirmed by an administrative law judge, then appealed by Phillips to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, an arm of the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies tasked with protecting consumers.

The seven-member board unanimously upheld the administrative judge’s ruling. It ordered Phillips to sell gay couples wedding cakes if so asked and to file quarterly reports for the next two years explaining the measures his business is taking to stop discriminating.

“No one should ever have to walk into a store and wonder if they will be turned away just because of who they are,” Mullins said in a statement released by the ACLU of Colorado, which represented him and Craig in their legal battle.

ACLU staff attorney Sara Neel said, “Masterpiece Cakeshop has willfully and repeatedly considered itself above the law when it comes to discriminating against customers, and the Commission has rightly determined otherwise.”

Phillips has taken an even-bad-news-is-good-news attitude about his the cake controversy. He has said his refusal to serve gay couples has lured the business of Coloradans like him who believe marriage should be old-school, restricted only to couples that include both a bride and a groom.

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About the Author

Susan Greene

A recovering newspaper journalist and Pulitzer finalist. Her criminal justice reporting includes “Trashing the Truth,” with Miles Moffeit, and “The Gray Box.”
susan@coloradoindependent.com | 720-295-8006 | @greeneindenver

1 Comment

  1. Chuck Anziulewicz on said:

    A business is not a church. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a bakery or a restaurant, a photo studio or a factory. They aren’t in the business of providing spiritual guidance or enforcing moral doctrines. They are there to turn a profit. As such, they are obligated to abide by prevailing civil rights laws, whether those laws protect people from discrimination based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.

    Conservative columnist Erick Erickson came to the defense of Christian business owners: “Committed Christians believe in a doctrine of vocation. They believe that their work is a form of ministry. Through their work, they can share the gospel and glorify God.”

    Oh, and also rake in as much money as possible. You can wax poetic all you want about “glorifying God,” but at the end of the day these businesses wouldn’t exist were it not for the profit motive.

    Should a restaurant owner be able to refuse service to Blacks because he has “moral objections” to race-mixing? Should an employer be able to fire a Muslim employee because he wants to run “a nice Christian workplace”? And if a Christian florist agrees to provide flower arrangements at a Muslim couple’s wedding, does it mean he is necessarily endorsing Islam?

    If the answer to these questions is NO, what justification is there refusing service to a Gay couple who wish to get a wedding cake or celebrate their anniversary in a restaurant?

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