ICC Note: As previously reported, a Christian baker named Jack Phillips declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012. In response, Phillips was found in violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act on the grounds of discriminating against them based on the customers’ sexual orientation. However, on September 7, the Department of Justice filed a brief on Phillips’ behalf, noting that forcing him to use his talents to create something that violates his religious convictions stands in violation of the First Amendment.
By Robert Barnes
09/07/2017 United States (Washington Post) – In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with religious liberty, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a brief on behalf of baker Jack Phillips, who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to created a cake to celebrate the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.
The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe.
“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief.
The DOJ’s decision to support Phillips is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights and to advance new policies on the issue.
But Louise Melling, the deputy legal counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couple, said she was taken aback by the filing.
“Even in an administration that has already made its hostility” toward the gay community clear, Melling said, “I find this nothing short of shocking.”