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Colorado’s constitution doesn’t recognize “same-sex marriage,” but the government is being accused of imposing its beliefs about matrimony on residents.
“The government … seek[s] to impose a new belief system upon Jack [Phillips], one that is fundamentally at odds with his conscience and his liberty,” explains a legal filing from attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom representing Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood, Colo.
A complaint to the state’s Civil Rights Division was filed by two homosexuals who wanted Phillips to provide them with a wedding cake, even though same-sex marriage is not allowed in the state. The government only recognizes civil unions.
Phillips offered to provide other products but, citing his own Christian beliefs, declined to produce a message on a wedding cake that conflicted with his faith.
Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer, however, ordered Phillips, on pain of fines or even jail time, to violate his faith and provide the wedding cake to homosexuals Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
Now ADF has asked the state to correct the “erroneous” ruling, filing a notice of appeal and petition for review to the commission.
ADF contends in its notice that Spencer, under the state’s court rules of procedure, should have dismissed the complaint and also was mistaken in granting the homosexuals’ motion for a protective order. Spencer also “erroneously struck portions of respondents’ discovery requests thereby limiting respondents’ discovery,” ADF explained.
The notice argues Phillips “did not discriminate ‘because of’ sexual orientation” but acted “in accordance with the provisions of the Colorado Constitution, state law and the public policy of the state.”
Phillips’ “conduct and expressions in declining to design and create a wedding cake are protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and by Article II, Section 10 of the Colorado Constitution,” ADF states.
The lawyers argue the case “involves both actual and symbolic speech” and Phillips and his company “cannot be forced to create and convey a message with which they disagree.”
Spencer was wrong, ADF contends, because “the ALJ’s recommendation that respondents ‘[c]ease and desist from discriminating against complainants and other same-sex couples by refusing to sell them wedding cakes or any other product respondents would provide to heterosexual couples’ is overbroad and exceeds the scope of relief authorized [under state law.].”
ADF said the issue in the case cuts to the basics of freedom in America.
“America was founded on the fundamental freedom of all citizens to live and work without fear of government punishment,” said Nicolle Martin, lead counsel in the case.
She is one of nearly 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom.
“Jack simply exercised the long-cherished freedom to not speak by declining to promote a false view of marriage through his creative work. It’s outrageous that the government would turn its guns on Jack and threaten him with a potential jail sentence unless he says and does what the government demands,” she said.
ADF documents the original exchange that prompted the homosexuals to complain to the state commission.
“In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith.”
The legal team said the homosexual duo wants Phillips “to cease and desist from holding views about marriage that they disagree with, and conform his conscience to their definition of marriage.”
“Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views,” added ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “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.”
Phillips explained to WND there are cakes for other circumstances 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.”
Spencer’s ruling said Phillips’ constitutional rights are secondary, because otherwise the “cost to society” isn’t considered. He granted homosexuals a special standard.
But the ACLU, which is representing the duo, said the same standard should not be used in other circumstances, such as asking a Muslim baker to make a cake criticizing his faith or asking a black cake maker to make a cake for the KKK.
Those bakers, because of their beliefs, would be allowed to refuse service, Spencer said.
Spencer bluntly offered cake makers an alternative to doing his will: 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 wrote.
Special rights for homosexuals have been the subject of several cases in recent years. In New Mexico, judges ruled that a Christian wedding photographer must surrender her religious beliefs as the price of good citizenship, in a case that remains on appeal.
And in Washington state, another baker shut down operations after being accused of discrimination under that state’s rules that provide special consideration for homosexuals.