Masterpiece Cakeshop

LGBT Equality
ACLU Case No. 2012-25


David Mullins and Charlie Craig attempted to purchase a wedding reception cake from Masterpiece Cake Shop and were refused service by the owner of the shop. The owner stated that, because of his reading of the word of God, it was his standard business practice to refuse to provide cakes to customers who were purchasing the cake for a same-sex wedding. Mr. Phillips has in fact turned away at least a half-dozen couples for this reason.

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation because of sexual orientation. The only places of public accommodations which are exempted from this statute are churches, synagogues, mosques, or “other place[s] that [are] principally used for religious purposes.” C.R.S. 24-34-601(1). Masterpiece Cakeshop does not fall within any of the legally recognized exceptions to the state’s anti-discrimination statute. While bakery owners, just like other business owners, are free to practice their faith and to personally oppose same-sex marriage, they cannot use those beliefs as an excuse to disrespect and discriminate against customers. The store has no more right to turn away a gay couple than to turn away an interracial couple, no matter what the owners’ personal beliefs.

After Charlie and David were discriminated against by Masterpiece Cakeshop, they filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD). The CCRD investigated the complaint and determined that the Masterpiece Cakeshop illegally discriminated against Charlie and Dave. The CCRD’s finding of illegal discrimination prompted the Colorado Attorney General’s office to file a formal complaint with the state courts against Masterpiece Cake Shop. The case will be heard before an Administrative Law Judge in September 2013. The ACLU of Colorado is representing Charlie and David throughout the hearing process, working with the Colorado Attorney General.

Read our blog about this case on ACLU’s Blog of Rights.


Paula Greisen
Sara J. Rich

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