Another judge has ruled homosexuals have a right not to be offended that supersedes First Amendment religious rights.
In the latest case, a Denver cake baker must make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding even if the message being conveyed in the ceremony violates his religious beliefs.
“America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs,” Nicolle Martin, an attorney with the Alliance Defending Freedom, said.
“Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free. If the government can take away our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can’t take away.”
The ruling came from Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer in Denver against Jack Phillips, a Christian who owns Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, Colo.
Phillips told the homosexual couple he couldn’t make the cake because he believes marriage between a man and a woman. The couple subsequently filed a discrimination claim arguing that Phillips’ refusal was based on their sexual orientation.
However, Phillips insisted he refused because of the message conveyed by the wedding cake.
“I told them I don’t do wedding cakes for same-sex marriages,” Phillips told WND. “I then let them know I would make any other kind of cake for them, just not a wedding cake.”
He explained to WND there are cakes for other circumstance he also would refuse to make.
“If a couple were to come in and ask me to do an erotic cake for a wedding I would refuse to do that as well,” he said. “These are my personal standards taken from Jesus Christ and the Bible.”
The case centers on whose rights take precedence.
Judge Spencer said the view that Phillips’ First Amendment rights are primary “fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are.”
In his ruling, Spencer noted Phillips’ argument that he also would have refused a request by a heterosexual couple to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.
However, Spencer granted homosexuals a special standard.
“Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not ‘because of’ their sexual orientation,’” Spencer wrote.
In Wednesday’s hearing on the case, the American Civil Liberties Union argued that while the government had the right to force a Christian to use his artistic talents to design a homosexual wedding cake, the standard should not be applied to other groups – such as asking a Muslim baker to make a cake criticizing his faith.
Spencer lined up behind the ACLU and said that while Phillips is expected to give up his religious beliefs regarding marriage to avoid offending homosexuals, if a Muslim baker were to be asked to design a cake denigrating the Quran or if a black cake maker was asked to do a cake for the KKK, neither would be under any compulsion to do so.
“In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse,” Spencer said.
“That, however, is not the case here, where respondents refused to bake any cake for complainants regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like. Respondents have no free speech right to refuse because they were only asked to bake a cake, not make a speech.”
Spencer bluntly offered cake makers an alternative: They can quit.
“If … respondents choose to quit making wedding cakes altogether to avoid future violations of the law; that is a matter of personal choice and not a result compelled by the state,” he suggested.
Spencer’s arguments are similar to statements by other government officials regarding homosexuality and same-sex ceremonies.
Raymond Sexton, executive director for the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission in Kentucky, told WND that it might be perfectly fine for a printing company run by “gays” to refuse to print anti-”gay” literature, but a Christian company refusing to print T-shirts for a “gay” event would not have that same right.
Hands On Originals, a company in Lexington, Ky., refused a request to print T-shirts for a local “gay” pride festival, citing religious beliefs.
But Sexton told WND that if a “gay” printing company was asked to print T-shirts from someone wanting the statement “Homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of God,” the “gay” group would have the right to refuse to print the order.
“If the company does not approve of the message, that is a valid non-discriminatory reason to refuse the work,” he said.
He also said a black business owner would have the right to refuse to print a flyer for a Klan rally.
However, when asked if the same would apply to Hands On Online if officials said “we don’t support ‘gay’ pride festivals, but we won’t discriminate against a person because they are ‘gay,’” Sexton was not as committed, simply saying “possibly.”
“This is a gray area, but possibly. I can’t say definitively, but it possibly could pass the test,” he said. “I would recommend they take the word ‘gay’ out of there and say they simply don’t approve of the message.”
A New Mexico judge ruled that a Christian wedding photographer must surrender her religious beliefs as the price of good citizenship.
Elaine Huguenin, co-owner of Elane Photography with her husband Jonathan, was asked to commemorate a same-sex ceremony by Vanessa Willock.
Huguenin refused, saying that while she does not discriminate against homosexuals on the basis of their orientation, her Christian beliefs prohibited her from sanctioning the marriage of two members of the same sex.
The state Supreme Court ruled that the Huguenins did not have any right to refuse to express sentiments contrary to her beliefs, ordering the couple to pay $6,637.94 in attorneys’ fees to Willock and her partner.
That case remains on appeal.