Colorado judge hears case over anti-gay bias at bakery

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An administrative judge heard arguments on Dec. 4 in support of a swift decision in a case involving a Colorado bakery that has a stated policy of discriminating against gay and lesbian customers.

In June, the Colorado Attorney General filed a complaint against Masterpiece Cakeshop of Lakewood after an investigation by the state Civil Rights Division concluded that the business had discriminated against David Mullins and Charlie Craig by refusing to sell the couple a cake for their wedding reception.

The bakery has admitted to its policy of refusing to sell cakes for the wedding receptions or commitment ceremonies of same-sex couples, and that several other couples have been turned away in the past.

The shop’s owner, Jake Phillips, claims that his religious opposition to marriage for same-sex couples should exempt the business from Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.

Attorney Nicolle Martin said Phillips feels "privileged to design and create the cakes that celebrate the joyous events of people's lives" but he also "believes this is a vocation chosen for him by God, and as a man of God, Jack Phillips lives by certain biblical principles."

But Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, said, "Religious freedom is an important American value, but no one’s religion gives a business the right to refuse service to customers. Under longstanding Colorado law, a store owner who serves the public cannot turn customers away just because of who they are."

In New Mexico earlier this year, the state Supreme Court said a photography business that refused to take a job to shoot a same-sex couple's commitment ceremony was wrong.