ADF International

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Supreme Court rules in favour of cake artist

– Government must respect religious beliefs about marriage
– European courts should protect fundamental rights in similar cases


WASHINGTON, D.C. (5.6.2018) –The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 Monday in favour of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The ruling reversed the state’s decision to punish Phillips for living and working consistent with his religious beliefs about marriage. One year ago, the high court agreed to weigh in on whether the government can force Phillips to use his artistic talents to design and create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex ceremony.

“Nobody should be forced to choose between their profession and their faith,” said Kristen Waggoner, Senior Counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, who argued the case before the Supreme Court. “Jack serves all customers; he simply declines to express messages or celebrate events that violate his deeply held beliefs.”

“Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a society like ours. This decision makes clear that the government must respect Jack’s beliefs about marriage.”

Forced re-education and close government monitoring

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Phillips to design a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. 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 design a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. The couple filed a complaint against him.

In May 2014, the Commission ordered Phillips to design cakes that celebrate same-sex ceremonies if he creates other wedding cakes. It required Phillips to re-educate his staff, most of whom are his family members—essentially teaching them that he was wrong to operate his business according to his faith. He also had to report to the government for two years all cakes that he declined to create and the reasons why.

Because the order left Phillips with no realistic choice but to stop designing wedding cakes, he lost 40 percent of his income and has been struggling to keep his small business afloat.

“The Supreme Court’s decision makes clear that the government must respect people’s beliefs about marriage. If we want to have freedom for ourselves, we have to extend it to others”, said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.

“Countless people of good will believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. No one should be bullied or banished for peacefully living out that belief. As political and cultural debates continue to rage in Europe about the purpose and definition of marriage, it is vitally important that such debates take place within a culture of tolerance and respect. Where countries have redefined marriage, courts and legislatures must create the space for others to peacefully disagree.”

Related Documents

  • Final Brief – ADF attorneys filed their final brief in the case with the Supreme Court on 22 November
  • One-Page Summary – Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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