Supreme Court To Decide Whether Businesses Can Deny Service To Gay Couples

The court will consider the case where a Colorado baker refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding.

The Supreme Court will hear a case about a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado, after small businesses across the country have said laws requiring them to not discriminate against LGBTQ couples violate their right to religious freedom.

A male same-sex couple visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2012 asking for a rainbow-colored wedding cake. The owner refused, citing his religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Anti-discrimination laws still allow religious people to speak their minds freely, James Esseks, an attorney for the couple in the case, told The New Yorker. But, he argues, the laws require businesses that serve the public to not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

“You can say to whomever, ‘I think gay people shouldn’t be able to get married. It’s a sin.’ You just can’t turn people away because of who they are,” Esseks said.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy group representing baker Jack Phillips, was thrilled to see the court taking up the case, according to a blog post published Monday.

“For Jack, politely declining to design and create a cake for a same-sex wedding back in 2012 wasn’t an unusual occurrence or some big defining moment (at least so he thought),” the post said. “Jack gave the same answer that he had already given to someone requesting a cake for a Halloween party or bachelor party.”

The ADF is also representing Barronelle Stutzman and her Richland, Washington, shop, Arlene’s Flowers. Stutzman refused to provide florals for a same-sex wedding. The state’s Supreme Court ruled against her last month.

The case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, has come before the court several times before with no action. Most recently, the court put off any decision in March.

The addition of Neil Gorsuch to the court indicates a shift towards conservatism that will likely not bode well for LGBTQ rights.

This article has been updated with more details of the case.

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