A baker in Colorado has been ordered by a judge to serve a gay couple despite his religious objections. This story is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between religious business owners and gay rights advocates. Our legal system seems to be working through how to balance historic religious liberty privileges with expanded rights for gay couples. Of particular interest from this story was the following:
The order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple “because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.”
The order says the cake-maker must “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples. Although the judge did not impose fines in this case, the business will face penalties if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against shop owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig, 33, and David Mullins, 29. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado.
“What the judge decided was that the baker’s religious beliefs don’t give him a right to discriminate and violate Colorado law,” Mark Silverstein with the ACLU told CBS4.
First, there is a certain irony to the American Civil Liberties Union fighting against an individual’s right to practice his religious preferences. Second, our society grants plenty of legal exceptions for religious and moral conscience. Conscientious objection is even a category for avoiding military service and, previously, the draft. Finally, when did the gay rights lobby become so concerned with cakes and photography? Isn’t this a bit trite? One has to wonder why a gay couple in love would want to hire someone who believes their union to be unrighteous. They are paying a lot of money in legal fees just to force a man to violate his own conscience. There is something insidious and pernicious about this action. It is even more alarming that a judge would agree.