Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece
Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, argues that he refused to sell a
wedding cake to a gay couple because cakes send messages that are
protected under the First Amendment.
“Everyone can agree that a wedding
cake carries a certain message – spiritual, cultural, symbolic,”
Phillips' lawyer Nicole Martin told
KDVR. “And because it carries a message, under the First
Amendment Jack has a right to say it or not say it.”
Phillips last year refused to consider
baking a cake for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, who have since
married in Massachusetts and held a reception in Denver. Colorado
recognizes gay couples with civil unions, not marriage.
The couple sued, claiming that
Phillips' faith does not give him a right to discriminate. They are
being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“[His] faith, whatever it may have to
say about marriage for same-sex couples or the expressive power of a
wedding cake, does not give the respondents a license to
discriminate,” ACLU attorney Amanda Goad told a judge in Colorado's
Civil Rights Commission on Wednesday.
Phillips previously stated that he
would rather shutter his business of 20 years than support same-sex
“If it came to that point, we would
close down the bakery before we would compromise our beliefs, so that
may be what it comes to. We'll see,” he said, adding that it was
“nothing personal” against gays.
“If gays come in and want to order
birthday cakes or any cakes for any occasion, graduations, or
whatever, I have no prejudice against that whatsoever. It's just the
wedding cake – not the people, not their lifestyle,” he said.
Mullins told KDVR that he filed the
complaint because “being discriminated against is a form of
“It's being degraded and put on a
lower level than other people in society. … In his church and in
his heart, he can hold whatever beliefs he wants. But a cake shop is
governed by civil laws and not religious laws,” he said.
A ruling is expected later this week.