The Colorado Civil Rights Commission was so biased that they fucked up the case against a discriminatory business before the Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 in the baker’s favor. From the blog,
Kennedy pointed out, one commissioner “even went so far as to compare
Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses
of slavery and the Holocaust.”
Happy Pride Month, friends.
This article clears-up a lot of questions I had about the case.
First, I now know that the case involves “Refusing to make a gay cake” instead of the (discriminatory) “Refusing to make a cake for gay people”.
Should a gay baker be forced to make a straight cake, if a straight cake does not align with their principles? Should an atheist baker be forced to make a Christian cake, if a Christian cake does not align with their principles? Should an SJW baker be forced to bake a cake with Pepe the frog on it if Pepe does not align with their principles?
The answer is no. You do not force people to make cakes that they do not want to make.
The important distinction to make is that a bigoted baker cannot refuse service to a gay couple because they are gay; They can only refuse service if they are requesting a gay cake. If the bigoted baker only makes straight cakes, they need to sell the gay couple a straight cake if the gay couple requests a straight cake.
Well, according to the case summary written by the Colorado Court of Appeals (which I did not read in full), the baker refused to supply the cake not knowing any details of the cake itself, but knowing its intended function. So it really wasn’t a refusal of a “gay cake” but rather a “gay wedding cake.” Also he did offer to sell them other baked goods, so it wasn’t a blanket refusal of gay customers either.
This does put the case in somewhat murky waters with regards to discrimination. I don’t buy their argument that it was based on artistic expression because for all they knew the couple wanted a “straight cake” for their gay wedding. In my mind this boils it down to a question: Is same-sex marriage an essential property of gay people? Could a gay person enjoy the functions of a straight marriage equally to a straight (or bisexual) person? I think the answer is a clear no. The supreme court has affirmed the right of people to same-sex marriage – although this hadn’t happened until after the incident at the heart of this case – so I believe that refusing to serve a gay wedding is discrimination in the same manner as refusing to serve a gay person.
As for whether businesses should be mandated by law to serve customers on the basis of protected class – I can see the arguments for both sides. But that doesn’t seem to be on the table here. Was their action discriminatory? I think so, and I think under normal circumstances the court would agree – but the pro-civil-rights side got carried away and screwed the pooch.
Businesses are absolutely mandated by law to serve customers on the basis of protected class. “No Blacks/Irish/Chinese/etc. served here” was not that long ago. There is abundantly clear and ample precedent on this, albeit not of a religious basis (unless you count Catholic vs Protestant). It seems fairly clear-cut here that the Civil Rights Commission simply got cocky and made bad legal arguments under the assumption that they couldn’t lose because the baker was so flagrantly in violation. They got their comeuppance at the expense of a vulnerable minority. No doubt there will be more cases in the future which will clarify the Court’s stance.