WASHINGTON – Hundreds of protesters on both sides of the issue swarmed the sidewalks around the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday demanding justice, as lawyers presented arguments over whether a baker violated the civil rights of a homosexual couple by refusing to bake a "gay" wedding cake for them.
While supporters of Masterpiece Cakeshop baker Jack Phillips chanted, "We got Jack's Back" and marched holding "Free Speech" signs, supporters of homosexuals Charlie Craig and David Mullins chanted "Love wins."
One man, who did not identify himself, told WND he came from New Jersey to hold a rainbow polka-dotted umbrella, and he compared conservative American Christians to the terrorist movement ISIS.
"The only difference between right-wing Christians in America and ISIS is the religion that they pervert," he said, "the religious symbol that they wear and Christians in this country for the most part are not violent – yet."
He claimed to support the First Amendment but said Phillips and Christians are violating the civil rights of the LBGT community by opposing gay marriage.
"I am not here to say that Christians can’t be Christians, you want to pray to whatever God you want to pray to, go ahead – when you demand other people adhere to your religion in public, you are crossing the line," he said.
"The Humans Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Religious Freedom Defense Act, all says that you cannot discriminate against somebody based on their religious belief or affiliation. So why is it that anti-gay Christians think that they have the special right to refuse service to LBGT people?"
The facts of the case, however, undermine his argument, since Phillips all along has stated he's willing to sell homosexuals any product on his store shelves. He just won't use his artistic ability to create a custom cake with a message that conflicts with his religious beliefs, a right protected by the First Amendment.
The New Jersey man praised Muslims for welcoming the LBGT community with open arms.
"Not one Muslim bakery in this country as ever refused to bake a cake for a gay couple," he claimed.
When told about footage demonstrating Muslim bakery owners refusing to bake a gay wedding cake, he proceeded to explain why he believes Muslims are less discriminatory than Christians.
"I grew up in a town filled with Muslims. They support LBGT rights. They let me play with their kids. They don't support discrimination against LBGT people," he said.
Lydia Macey of Berkeley, California, draped in a "gay"-pride flag, said she supports the First Amendment but claimed it has "loopholes" that Phillips used to violate civil rights.
"My familiarity with the First Amendment is that it is granting freedom of speech, freedom of press – I'm pretty sure, and it's saying that in America you have the ability to say whatever you want and basically do what you want," she told WND. "But I also think that when you have a public store or a public franchise that you don't get to say, 'I don’t want to serve you because you are part of this identity and I don't agree with you.' The First Amendment, like other amendments, is very tricky because you can find loopholes in all of them.
"In a public establishment like the Masterpiece bakery, you don't get to pick and choose who your customers are," she claimed.
The dispute had been predicted several years ago when the four dissenting justices in the U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage case warned the decision would one day be used to restrict the First Amendment rights of Christians.
When reminded the First Amendment protects freedom of religion, Macey claimed Phillips violated so-called "separation of church and state" by refusing to bake gay wedding cakes at his privately owned bakery.
"We do have freedom of religion in this country, but we also have separation of church and state, which means that you can't just discriminate against a whole group of people just because of your religion," she said. "I am here today to support Charlie and David, and to support the larger movement that they are standing for. To end discrimination against minority groups in public businesses."
Tari Blackmon, the executive minister of Justice and Witness for the United Church of Christ, argued it's high time conservatives groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council stop using religion "to divide people."
"Everyone is entitled to their faith but under the law everyone has to be treated equal," she said. "When a business opens its doors to the public, it does not have the right to discriminate. What parts of that public they are going to serve. If that bakery does not want to serve all of the public, then perhaps he should just bake cakes from his home and give them to whom he wants to give them to. When he opens a business, then he does not get to pass judgment on the humanity of any other person."
The pastor claimed that Muslims would also be face legal battles upon refusing to serve homosexual couples.
"Had this couple walked into a Muslim bakery and not have been served – we would be here with Muslims on the other side, but he did not," she said. "He walked into a bakery of a man who professes Christianity."
Blackmon then rationalized discrimination of Trump supporters, arguing hypothetically that an anti-Trump owner of a T-shirt shop would be justified in turning Trump supporters away.
"If that T-shirt shop has a policy that they don't do a particular kind of language for everybody, then it's not discriminatory."
Michael Farris, the attorney representing Phillips and the president of Alliance Defending Freedom, contended that the government cannot interfere with how Phillips uses his artistry.
"Our contention is that the government does not have the authority consistent with the First Amendment to force people to use their artistic talents to create a message that they conscientiously disbelieve," Farris told WND. "Phillips should not be forced to create art that celebrates same-sex weddings. Another artist would not be able to be forced to violate his or her conscious as well, no matter what the topic is."
Those who claim Phillips is a bigot and compared the baker to ISIS must distinguish between "discrimination between a person and a message," Farris said.
"Jack has clearly served LBGT people in the past and will do so in the future. (He) offer(ed) to sell these two gentleman a variety of products, anything other than a custom wedding cake because he serves all people, but he doesn't create all messages," he said.
"He doesn't create Halloween messages. He doesn't create messages that demean people, including one time he turned away an anti-LBGT cake that people asked him to make. He will serve the people but not the messages. Endorsing same-sex marriages, he was not willing to do."
Farris then warned that the backlash against Phillips is rooted in leftist, anti-Christian discrimination, and he would not be facing legal hurdles if he were a Muslim.
"The religious disparity that's apparent on the record of this case actually came up pretty strongly in the oral argument – one of the [state civil rights] commissioners said some pretty nasty things about the Christian faith and about religion in general. Another commissioner decided in their disparity of treatment between this cake and three cakes that were on the opposite side of the same-sex marriage question were very differently handled," he said. "All that form of discrimination was prominent in the questioning today. It's not just you and me saying there is discrimination. Justices on the Supreme Court of the United States were very concerned about that."
Rabbi Yehuda Levin of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada told WND that he traveled from Brooklyn, New York, to stand in front of the Supreme Court "to show support to God-fearing Christian people, like Jack Phillips."
The Orthodox Jewish community "realizes when the religious Christian community sneezes, the Orthodox Jewish community gets a cold. First, they come for the Christians, eventually they will work their way down to the Orthodox community."
"What the religious-conservative movement is doing, we in the Orthodox community have the greatest appreciation and the greatest respect," Levin said.
The opposition to Phillips, Levin argued, is a battle in "a war against Christianity" and people of faith.
"Absolutely, positively no question that this is a war against on Bible-believing people of all faiths. In particular, they are starting up now with the big boy on the block – the evangelical Christians," he said. "We are a minority as Jews – but we understand first [progressives] will come for the Christians, they will come for the Jack Phillips. Then they'll come for other people and, finally, they will come for us."
A minister, Leroy Swells of Washington, D.C., blasted the Mullins' supporters for comparing him to ISIS as he emphatically repudiated homosexuality.
"He called me ISIS because he's totally confused. ISIS pushes homosexuals off of buildings and they behead homosexuals," he said. "I cannot bake a cake for a sodomite. I cannot bake a sodomite cake. I'd definitely discriminate."