Bob Unruh, WND, August 13, 2015
Three Colorado appeals-court judges endorsed Thursday a lower court’s decision to force a Christian baker, already labeled by a state official as a Nazi, to violate his faith and provide wedding cakes to same-sex couples.
The state’s plan also includes indoctrinating bakery workers regarding the treatment of homosexual customers.
The state Court of Appeals opinion by Judge Dan Taubman was joined by Alan Loeb and Mike Berger.
They rejected constitutional arguments raised by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys who represented baker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop.
Phillips was targeted by homosexuals who explained they were getting married in another state but wanted a cake in Colorado, where same-sex marriage at the time was not legal. The court opinion notes Phillips said his bakery accepts customers regardless of sexual orientation but does not make cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
Nevertheless, the homosexual duo, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, filed a complaint with the state, which ruled against the bakery. One official compared Phillips and his cakeshop to Nazis.
That was when Diann Rice, a member of the state civil rights commission, said: “I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be–I mean, we–we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to–to use their religion to hurt others.”
And while the court admitted the case “juxtaposes” the rights of the homosexuals to those of Phillips, it concluded that Phillips’ rights are secondary to the rights of homosexuals to buy a wedding cake wherever they choose.
The state commission ruled that Masterpiece discriminated inappropriately and ordered Phillips to stop. The state also demanded he “take remedial measures, including comprehensive staff training and alteration to the company’s policies.”
The appeals court judges adopted the lower court’s determination line by line.
Specifically, the court said the concern that the bakery would be viewed as endorsing homosexuality was negligible. Taubman said Phillips case differs from another in which the state of Colorado allowed a bakery featuring sexually explicit products to refuse to create two “Bible-shaped cakes inscribed with … ‘homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2.'”
Taubman argued the other case centered on “offensive” messages inscribed on the cake, unlike the Phillips case.
“We recognize that a wedding cake, in some circumstances, may convey a particularized message celebrating same-sex marriage and, in such cases, First Amendment speech protections may be implicated,” Taubman wrote.
But he said that issue would not be addressed now.
The Masterpiece business, Taubman said, “is not sufficiently expressive to warrant First Amendment protections.”
He likened objecting to the promotion of same-sex relationships on biblical grounds to racism.
“As one court observed in addressing a similar free exercise challenge to the 1964 Civil Rights Act: ‘Undoubtedly defendant . . . has a constitutional right to espouse the religious beliefs of his own choosing, however, he does not have the absolute right to exercise and practice such beliefs in utter disregard of the clear constitutional rights of other citizens. This court refuses to lend credence or support to his position that he has a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of the Negro race in his business establishment upon the ground that to do so would violate his sacred religious beliefs.'”
The court claimed the law is neutral, generally applicable and “does not impose burdens on religious conduct not imposed on secular conduct.”