A Colorado judge today determined that a Lakewood bakery unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to sell them a wedding cake.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop last year, with Craig’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs the store’s policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods to celebrate a same-sex couple’s wedding.
“Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” said Mullins. “No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today’s decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”
Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. Mullins and Craig filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) contending that Masterpiece had violated this law. Earlier this year, the CCRD ruled that Phillips illegally discriminated against Mullins and Craig. Today’s decision from Judge Robert N. Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts affirms that finding.
“While we all agree that religious freedom is important, no one’s religious beliefs make it acceptable to break the law by discriminating against prospective customers,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No one is asking Masterpiece’s owner to change his beliefs, but treating gay people differently because of who they are is discrimination plain and simple.”
Phillips admitted he had turned away other same-sex couples as a matter of policy. The CCRD’s decision noted evidence in the record that Phillips had expressed willingness to take a cake order for the “marriage” of two dogs, but not for the commitment ceremony of two women, and that he would not make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding celebration “just as he would not be willing to make a pedophile cake.”
“Masterpiece Cakeshop has willfully and repeatedly considered itself above the law when it comes to discriminating against customers, and the state has rightly determined otherwise,” said Sara R. Neel, staff attorney with the ACLU of Colorado. “It’s important for all Coloradans to be treated fairly by every business that is open to the public – that’s good for business and good for the community.”