The list of defenders of Colorado baker Jack Phillips in his case against Colorado’s order that he promote same-sex marriage in violation of his faith reads like a who’s who of America’s leaders.
First, the Department of Justice has come down on Phillips’ side in his dispute with the state over his decision to not create a wedding cake for a couple.
Then there are the briefs from 20 different states, 86 members of Congress, 479 creative professionals, 34 legal scholars, 33 family policy organizations, 22 Utah Republican state senators, and 14 legal and economic scholars.
In addition, he is supported by the Becket Fund, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Focus on the Family, Samaritan’s Purse, the Navigators, Tyndale House, Cato Institute, Christian Law Association, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Concerned Women for America, numerous Christian colleges, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, First Amendment Lawyers Association, Foundation for Moral Law, Aaron and Melissa Klein, Family Research Council, U.S. Justice Foundation, Thomas More Society and numerous Catholic groups, led by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
They believe that Phillips has the right under the U.S. Constitution to protect his religious rights by declining to support something that conflicts with his beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is arguing on Philips’ behalf before the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, cited 45 friend-of-the-court briefs that have been submitted to the high court in support of the Colorado cake artist.
Just days earlier, ADF filed its opening brief in the case.
WND reported ADF said Colorado is “consistently opposing” anyone who objects to publicly supporting same-sex “marriage.”
Phillips was ordered by the state’s Civil Rights Commission to provide his customized wedding cakes to same-sex duos if he provided them to anyone. He also was forced to undergo state-mandated, homosexual-rights thought training, along with his staff.
A member of the state’s Civil Rights Commission, Diann Rice, publicly exhibited bias against him during a hearing, comparing him to a Nazi.
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”
Hear a recording of Rice’s statement:
ADF said such “animus” in a state is “alarming” and “has no place in civil society.”
The organization said Rice’s comment “suggests that other members of the commission may share her view that people who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman are comparable to those who committed the Holocaust.”
“This anti-religious bias undermines the integrity of the commission.”
ADF noted the support for Phillips is vast.
“As the numerous briefs filed in this case affirm, artists and other expressive professionals should be able to peacefully live and work according to their beliefs without fear of punishment by the government,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who will argue before the high court on behalf of Phillips and his shop. “We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will consider the arguments in these briefs and declare that the government cannot force Jack to surrender his freedom in order to run his family business. Regardless of one’s view on marriage, all Americans should support Jack: To have First Amendment freedoms for ourselves, we must respect those same freedoms for people with whom we disagree on important issues.”
The United States’ brief recognized that “a custom wedding cake is a form of expression. … It is an artistic creation that is both subjectively intended and objectively perceived as a celebratory symbol of a marriage.”
The states argued the government “may not use their police power to truncate the First Amendment by compelling a person to create a piece of artwork – particularly one that violates the artist’s conscience.”
The nearly 500 creative professionals similarly assert: “Artistic speech, whether expressed through painting a picture, taking a photograph, or designing a cake, is constitutionally protected and should be treated as such. The expression should neither be silenced nor coerced. Though the concern is currently most pressing in the same-sex wedding context, it is not so limited. Creative professionals of all stripes stand to suffer from undue compulsion, depending on how this court rules here.”
ADF’s first briefing pointed out the antagonism religious believers face in Colorado.
“A review of all these situations reveals something striking: People of faith who do not support same-sex marriage always lose (in Colorado),” the legal team explained. “Whether they are the customer requesting an expressive item or the professional declining to create it, the commission consistently opposes them.
“This unequal application of the law impermissibly ‘single[s] out’ a specific religious belief ‘for discriminatory treatment,'” the brief states.
The lawyers explained that Phillips’ right to decline to promote homosexuality is protected by the First Amendment’s Free Speech and Free Exercise clauses.
“At issue here is whether Phillips may decline requests for wedding cakes that celebrate marriages in conflict with his religious beliefs. The First Amendment guarantees him that freedom because his wedding cakes, each one custom-made, are his artistic expression.
“Much like an artist sketching on canvas or a sculptor using clay, Phillips meticulously crafts each wedding cake through hours of sketching, sculpting, and hand-painting. The cake, which serves as the iconic centerpiece of the marriage celebration, announces through Phillips’s voice that a marriage has occurred and should be celebrated.
“The government can no more force Phillips to speak those messages with his lips than to express them through his art.”
Lower-court decisions in the Colorado court system are, therefore, mistaken, the brief contends.
ADF Senior Counsel Kristen Waggoner said tolerance “should be a two-way street.”
“Phillips gladly serves anyone who walks into his store, but, as is customary practice for many artists, he declines opportunities to design for a variety of events and messages that conflict with his deeply held beliefs. In this case, Jack told the couple suing him he’d sell them anything in the store but just couldn’t design a custom cake celebrating their wedding because of his Christian faith,” Waggoner said.
“The First Amendment protects Jack’s right to create artistic expression that is consistent with his core convictions. Individuals can support both same-sex marriage and Jack, and people should have the right to disagree on critical matters of conscience. The same government that can force Jack to violate his faith and conscience can force any one of us to do the same.”
The opening brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission explains: “Discovering that he could blend his skills as a pastry chef, sculptor, and painter, [Jack] spent nearly two decades in bakeries owned by others before opening Masterpiece Cakeshop twenty-four years ago.”
“Long before television shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, Phillips carefully chose Masterpiece’s name: it would not be just a bakery, but an art gallery of cakes. With this in mind, Phillips created a Masterpiece logo depicting an artist’s paint palate with a paintbrush and whisk. And for over a decade, a large picture has hung in the shop depicting Phillips painting at an easel. Since long before this case arose, Phillips has been an artist using cake as his canvas with Masterpiece as his studio,” the brief states.
“Phillips is also a man of deep religious faith whose beliefs guide his work,” the brief continues. “Those beliefs inspire him to love and serve people from all walks of life, but he can only create cakes that are consistent with the tenets of his faith. His decisions on whether to design a specific custom cake have never focused on who the customer is, but on what the custom cake will express or celebrate.”
The dispute erupted when Charlie Craig and David Mullins filed a complaint with the state after Phillips politely declined to promote their same-sex “marriage,” for which they traveled out of state since Colorado refused to recognize that status at the time.
Phillips explains he also refuses, based on his religious convictions, to make cakes that promote Halloween, anti-America attitudes, adult-themes and alcohol.
ADF points out Colorado has established not only a reputation for bias against Phillips but against Christians.
“In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission found in 2015 that three other Denver cake artists were not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined a Christian customer’s request for a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage. The commission found those bakers had the right not to create custom cakes based on the requested message,” ADF said.
The brief notes that since the fight has moved up to the U.S. Supreme Court, “the Colorado Court of Appeals and the commission have conceded that some cakes are artistic expression protected under the First Amendment.”
But, ADF said, “Philips’s custom wedding cakes, they have told us, are not among them.”