United States top court rules for baker in gay wedding cake case

Supreme court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case

Supreme court rules in favor of baker in same-sex wedding cake case

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday ruled in favor of a Christian baker in Colorado who refused to lend his artistry to a wedding cake for a same-sex duo, scolding officials from the state for violating the U.S. Constitution by showing hostility to religion.

The ruling went on to blast comments made during the commission's hearing that denigrated Phillips' faith and included remarks that compared his belief in religious freedom that in the past has been used to justify discrimination like slavery and the Holocaust.

Twenty-one states, including Colorado, now have anti-discrimination laws protecting people from being refused service on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Washington's attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said the high court's decision in the Colorado case "may lead to additional procedural steps", but it won't affect the ultimate outcome in the Arlene's Flowers case. For instance, Kennedy notes, "it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion".

The disputes, Kennedy wrote, "must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to honest religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market".

Of the 50 states, 21 including Colorado have anti-discrimination laws protecting gay people. The First Amendment prohibits governments from discriminating against citizens on the basis of religious beliefs.

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"Colorado would not be punishing Phillips if he refused to create any custom wedding cakes; it is punishing him because he refuses to create custom wedding cakes that express approval of same-sex marriage", Thomas said.

CNN Supreme Court analyst Steve Vladeck said that with the many different Constitutional questions in this case remaining largely unanswered, the decision was ultimately less meaningful than previously expected. The Supreme Court's ruling found the commission - and a Colorado appeals court that also ruled in favor of the gay couple - had erred.

Scattered across the country, florists, bakers, photographers and others have claimed that being forced to offer their wedding services to same-sex couples violates their rights. The civil rights commission required Phillips to "cease and desist" that policy, and keep records for two years about any refusals of service. Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the majority opinions in both cases. Fellow liberal Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan voted with the majority. Wisconsin Democrat Cathy Myers said that the decision will only embolden other "bigoted bakers", while writer Robert Sandy said that the decision gave Phillips license to be a "homophobic a**hole".

Kennedy was behind the landmark 2105 decision, Obergefell vs. Hodges, that legalized same-sex marriage but his jurisprudence has shown affinity too for religious freedom.

Louise Melling, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, emphasized the narrowness of the opinion.

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