A three-member panel of the Colorado
Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously upheld an administrative law
judge's ruling against a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for
a gay couple.
In 2012, Denver-based Masterpiece
Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips refused to consider baking a cake for
Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig. The men married in Massachusetts and
wanted to buy a cake from Phillips for their Denver reception.
Phillips said that serving the couple would violate his religious
faith. Colorado at the time recognized gay and lesbian couples with
civil unions, not marriage.
The couple sued, saying that Phillips'
faith does not give him a right to discriminate.
Judge Robert N. Spencer in 2013 ruled
against Phillips, saying that he had violated the state's civil
rights law. A seven-member panel of Colorado's Civil Rights
Commission unanimously upheld the ruling last year.
In Thursday's ruling, the appeals court
said that it disagreed with Phillips' argument that baking a cake for
a gay couple is tantamount to an endorsement of marriage equality.
“Nothing in the record supports the
conclusion that a reasonable observer would interpret Masterpiece's
providing a wedding cake for a same-sex couple as an endorsement of
same-sex marriage rather than a reflection of its desire to conduct
business in accordance with Colorado's public accommodations law,”
the court said in its 66-page ruling.