2018-JUN: More reactions to the gay wedding cake ruling about Masterpiece Cakeshop in Supreme Court:
The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), is a non-profit group that represented the baker. The ADF specializes in cases like this one which involve conservative Christians wishing to have the freedom to freely discriminate against their own customers on religious grounds. Of course, ADF looks upon the conflict very differently. One of their lawyers, Kristen Waggoner, wrote:
"Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack's religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that. ... [The High Court's decision] makes clear that the government must respect Jack's beliefs about marriage."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) issued a statement saying he was "pleased" with the decision:
"The First Amendment prohibits governments from discriminating against citizens on the basis of religious beliefs. The Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for Mr. Phillips' religious beliefs. In this case and others, the Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the free speech and religious freedom First Amendment rights of all Americans."
Lawyer Louise Melling of the American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs, and took a very different position. She said:
"The court reversed the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision based on concerns unique to the case but reaffirmed its longstanding rule that states can prevent the harms of discrimination in the marketplace, including against LGBT people."
The South Broadway Christian Church in Denver, CO is a mainline congregation, of the Disciples of Christ. Rev. The pastor, Rev. Dustin Adkins, posted a statement on the outdoor church sign, saying:
"JESUS WOULD HAVE BAKED THAT CAKE."
He said that the sign was a matter of inclusion:
"Jesus worked with folks on the periphery of society, mistreated and marginalized. Those folks are the ones he welcomes the most."
The home page of the church's web site states:
"WELCOME. Have you been burned by church? Felt unwelcome elsewhere? Tired of being told what you have to believe? Come explore your faith in our open and welcoming community!" 2
Since Colorado and 20 other states have anti-discrimination laws protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, we can probably expect more cases in the future similar to this one. Hopefully, the High Court will eventually answer the fundamental question: Can store owners discriminate against their customers on the basis of the owner's sincere religious beliefs?
For example, in the past, a widespread belief among evangelical and fundamentalist Christians was that God created different races of humans and placed them in different areas of the world: blacks in Africa; whites in northern Europe, etc. He intended them to remain separate and not mix. Racial segregation and inter-racial laws and beliefs were based on this concept. And so, there were separate restaurants, water fountains, bus seating areas for blacks and whites throughout the U.S. South. Inter-racial marriages were banned in many states across the U.S. There are still some Christians who believe in this biblical interpretation today. Should store owners who sincerely believe in racial segregation be able to post a sign in their window saying: "We serve whites only"or "We don't serve interracial couples."
The article in MSNBC concluded that this case and other similar conflicts between public accommodations and LGBT customers is part of a reaction by conservative Christians against the High Court's previous ruling during mid-2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges that legalized same-sex marriages.
Since the court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, business at there has been booming. He said:
"We have had so many people coming by to support us as the case has gone on, and there has been an outpouring of love and support since the decision came down. The state's targeting of my beliefs [originally] cost me 40 percent of my business and forced me from 10 employees down to four. But we're so happy to be busy doing what we do best at our shop."
He said that sales and orders have tripled since the June court opinion. 3
Webmaster's recommendations to store owners:
Our Contributing Editor, Susan Humphreys, wrote an essay on this web sites titled: "Taking individual action to encourage retail
outlets to NOT discriminate against customers?"
It shows two positive posters which store owners could rework and post in their store to indicate that they serve customers regardless of sex, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
I recommend that public accommodation across the U.S. consider showing a poster like the ones above in a prominent place in their store. Without such a sign, as things now stand legally, many minority customers will be nervous entering a store, not knowing whether they will be refused service.