As the new year begins, one thing is certain: a Supreme Court decision will come in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case – and it will have an impact on people in every community across America.
The state of Colorado argues that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips must design custom wedding cakes for same-sex "marriages" if he creates other wedding cakes. The case began in 2012 when two homosexual men visited Phillips at his shop near Denver.
"In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack politely declined the request, saying he could not design cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies," says Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Phillips. "Jack offered to design other custom cakes for the couple or sell them any other pre-made item in his shop, but because of his faith, he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony."
The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case on December 5. People on both sides of the issue were outside the high court, including supporters of Phillips – who heard him explain his stance.
"Though I serve everyone who comes into my shop, like many other creative professionals I don't create custom designs for events or messages that conflict with my conscience," Phillips told the crowd outside the Court. "I don't create cakes for Halloween, promote sexual or anti-American themes, or disparage people – including people who identify as LGBT."
Phillips went on to say that it's never been about the person making the request, but rather the message the person wants the cake to communicate.
"I'm here at the Supreme Court today because I respectfully declined to create a custom cake that would celebrate a view of marriage in direct conflict with my faith's core teachings on marriage," he continued.
"I offered to sell the two gentlemen suing me anything else in my shop or create a design on a cake for any other occasion. For that decision, which was guided by an established set of religious beliefs, I've endured a five-year court battle. It's been very hard on me and my family."
ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner said it was a privilege to stand on behalf of Jack Phillips.
"Colorado's position was so extreme today that it said that the state could actually compel all kinds of artists – filmmakers, photographers, graphic designers – who are paid to express messages that violate their core identity," she added. "This court has never compelled artistic expression or political or ideological expression – and if it does so now, we will have less civility, less pluralism, and less diversity in our society."
Waggoner went on to point out remarks from Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy that tolerance requires respect for those with whom we disagree.
"Colorado has neither been tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips ... and for that reason, we ask the Court to reverse the lower court's decision," said the attorney.
A ruling is expected in June.