DENVER – The Colorado Court of Appeals heard oral arguments today in a discrimination case brought by a same-sex couple against a cake shop that refused to sell them a cake for their wedding reception.
In 2012, Colorado residents David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a wedding cake. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed the couple that, because of his religious beliefs, it was his standard business practice to refuse to provide cakes to customers for same-sex weddings. Phillips has turned away several other couples for the same reason.
“As marriage equality becomes law all across the nation, it’s especially disheartening that we’re still fighting this battle where businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop feel they can violate the law and discriminate against us just because of who we are and who we love,” said Mullins. His partner Craig added, “It’s time we moved on from using religion as an excuse to discriminate. No one should be told they are less than anyone else, especially at a joyous time like a wedding.”
Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits businesses, such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors including race, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Colorado filed suit on behalf of Mullins and Craig in 2013. In December 2013, an administrative law judge ruled that the bakery had illegally discriminated against the couple. In 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed that ruling. Masterpiece Cakeshop appealed.
“Nobody gets to pick and choose which laws they want to follow,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “If a business owner is allowed to simply cite personal beliefs as a basis for turning away same-sex couples, then what stops a doctor from denying medical care to the child of same-sex parents or a police officer from refusing to defend a church or a synagogue?”
“This case is not about cake. It’s about longstanding civil rights laws that ensure that businesses open to the public are open to everyone,” said Ria Mar, Staff Attorney for the ACLU LGBT and AIDS Project, who argued the case this morning before the Court.
For more information about Charlie Craig and David Mullins v. Masterpiece Cakeshop: https://www.aclu.org/cases/charlie-craig-and-david-mullins-v-masterpiece-cakeshop?redirect=lgbt-rights/charlie-craig-and-david-mullins-v-masterpiece-cakeshop
The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.