A Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple has been given an ultimatum by a judge; serve gay weddings or face fines.
Administrative law judge Robert N. Spence found Friday that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, Colo. violated the law when he turned away David Mullins, 29, and Charlie Craig, 33, from his shop last year.
In his written decision, Spence ordered that Phillips “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples, or face financial penalties, and cited Colorado state law that prohibits businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
“At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses,” Spence wrote. “This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are.”
Mullins and Craig married in Massachussets and had originally gone to Masterpiece in July 2012 because they wanted to a cake for their wedding reception in Colorado. When Phillips refused, the pair went to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) on their behalf.
According to the complaint, Phillips told the couple that the store policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods for a same-sex wedding, based on his religious beliefs.
Phillips told the men, “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”
The judge’s decision states in its Finding of Facts that Phillips believes creating same-sex wedding cakes would be “displeasing God and acting contrary to the teachings of the Bible.”
In concluding that Masterpiece Cakeshop acted unlawfully, a CCRC investigation also showed evidence that Phillips was willing to bake a cake for the “marriage” of a pair of dogs, but not for two women.
“Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration,” Mullins said in statement. “No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today’s decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”
Nicolle Martin, an attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop, told The Associated Press that the judge’s decision was “reprehensible” and “antithetical to everything America stands for.”
“He can’t violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck,” Martin said. “If Jack can’t make wedding cakes, he can’t continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system.”
Phillips can appeal the judge’s order, which is expected to be certified by the Civil Rights Commission next week. Martin said they are currently considering their next move.