Today, the Supreme Court announced that it will consider whether a baker in suburban Denver unlawfully discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to create a cake for their wedding reception.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012 hoping to order a cake for their upcoming reception, according to The Washington Post. They were planning to get married in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages were legal at the time, and host the reception in Colorado. This was before the landmark 2015 decision that made marriage equality the law of the land; same-sex couples were not allowed to marry in Colorado until 2014.
Jack Phillips, the owner of the cake shop, claimed that his religious beliefs prohibited him from honoring a same-sex marriage and suggested they go to another bakery. He told the Supreme Court that the First Amendment protects his free speech and religious rights.
The couple filed a complaint. In 2014, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission decided that Phillips had broken state law. State courts upheld the ruling, saying he had violated Colorado's public accommodations law, which prohibits refusing service to customers based on race, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, and other factors.
In a response brief, Phillips' lawyers stated: "Colorado state law compels Phillips to create custom wedding cakes endorsing a view of marriage different from his own, but the First Amendment protects Phillips' right not to do so. That protection turns on two fundamental First Amendment principles: Phillips' custom wedding cakes constitute speech, and the state cannot compel an artist like Phillips to create speech."
In similar cases — a photographer in New Mexico, a flower shop in Washington — state anti-discrimination law has generally taken precedent over "religious freedom," according to The Washington Post. SCOTUS will hear the case when it's back in session in October.
In a separate case on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are now entitled to equal treatment when it comes to their children's birth certificates. An Arkansas law treated married same-sex parents differently than opposite-sex parents, allowing the husband of a married woman to be listed on a birth certificate even if he is not the biological father of a child, but making no such provision for same-sex partners.
Three conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., and Neil M. Gorsuch — dissented from the decision.