US Supreme Court hears wedding-cake case between baker and same-sex couple

Published: 06 December 2017 Image credit: Reuters

Cake maker Jack Phillips refused to make wedding cake for same-sex couple in 2012, sparking Supreme Court case

The US Supreme Court has heard arguments in the ongoing case between a same-sex couple and a Colorado cake baker who refused to make the couple’s wedding cake due to his ‘Christian values.’

Jack Phillips, who describes himself as a “cake artist” is arguing that freedom of speech and freedom of religion should allow him to refuse to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, despite a state law which prohibits businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Nine Supreme Court justices today began debating the case with questions including the purpose of cakes at weddings, how much creativity goes into the production of a wedding cake and what other businesses could argue exemption to anti-discrimination laws, all raised.

Speaking outside court, Mr Phillips said the government was forcing him to choose between providing for his family and violating his relationship with God.

“This is not freedom,” he said, “this is not tolerance.”

“I hope and pray they will affirm the freedom of artist to peacefully express themselves in ways consistent with who they are."

General Council of Alliance Defending Freedom, Michael Farris said he recognises that this is a case in which people from both sides would be offended.

“Freedom of speech means the ability to refuse to speak a message you don't agree with and the freedom to speak includes the context where other people might be offended,” he said.

"People should be defending to the death, the right to refuse to engage in speech that violates their core religious and political convictions."

David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the married couple who were turned away by the baker, told media they felt “hurt and rejected” after the incident occurred in 2012.

“We felt like second class citizens in our society and we want people to know that this story isn't an abstract,” he said.

“This is about real pain felt by real people and things that are suffered every day by LGBT people across this country."

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said the state and constitution have the “deepest respect” for the rights of all people’s freedom of speech and religion.

“However it would be a mistake to create new exceptions that would dramatically weaken anti-discrimination laws and allow business owners to refuse service to people they don't agree with," Ms Coffman said.

A final decision is yet to be made on the case, with today’s hearing attracting a large crowd of protesters from both sides of the argument outside the court.

Same-sex marriage was legalised nationwide in America in 2015.