U.S. Supreme Court sides with baker in ‘gay wedding cake’ case

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Reaction to the ruling in Los Angeles was mixed with some who work in the wedding industry upset about the decision, while others said since the decision was narrow, it should not be considered a loss for the LGBTQ community.

“I’m very angry about it,” said Natalie Sofer, an event planner in Los Angeles who has planned more than 20 LGBTQ weddings. “If they’re in business, they should respect other people’s choice of who to love.”

Sofer added that, to her knowledge, none of her clients have faced discrimination when planning their weddings and credits this to her list of vendors who “would never discriminate against anyone.”

Despite the initial outrage, legal experts suggest that the decision is not a ruling in favor of LGBTQ discrimination.

“This is a very narrow decision,” said David Hakimfar, Esq. founding partner at Pride Legal in West Hollywood. “There’s room for optimism here.”

The Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, which was argued before the Supreme Court in December 2017, is about Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who refused to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, citing his Christian faith as protected under the First Amendment — freedom of speech and freedom to exercise religion. Phillips did agree to sell Craig and Mullins “birthday cakes, shower cakes, cookies and brownies,” according to a statement by the Supreme Court.

The couple took their case to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Colorado Court of Appeals and, eventually, the Supreme Court. According to the Supreme Court decision, Philips faced “hostility” from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ordered Philips to create the wedding cake for the couple.

“Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be—I mean, we—we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to—to use their religion to hurt others,” a commissioner stated in a meeting with Philips on July 25, 2014.

Same sex marriage was not legalized in Colorado until 2014, two years after the discrepancy took place. Hakimfar added that regardless of whether gay marriage was legal at the time, discrimination against people based on sex, race, country of origin of sexual orientation is not legal.

Hakimfar said “the Supreme Court is right on a technicality” and does not view the decision as a loss for LGBTQ advocates.

“The Supreme Court looked at it as the biased treatment the owner of the bakery received from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission,” Hakimfar said. He added that the Supreme Court’s decision serves to re-establish trust in government institutions — that individuals dealing with the government would be guaranteed “a neutral opinion.”

“They’re looking at it on a grand scale, not a personal level like you or I might,” Hakimfar said.

He added that the Supreme Court has not overruled the Miller v. Davis case which found it unconstitutional for Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to deny a same-sex couple a marriage license based on her religious beliefs.

“Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Justice Kagan wrote in the Supreme Court decision.

“We’ll make a cake for whoever,” said Walter Dominguez, supervisor at Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose.

He added that Sweet Lady Jane’s most memorable cake was the vegan red velvet cake for Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding in 2008.

“I can’t even count the number of cakes we’ve done for same-sex couples — there are so many,” Dominguez said.

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