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Your Turn: Are Cakes Free Speech? Or Illegal Discrimination?

by Countable | 12.4.17

What’s at stake?

This week, the Supreme Court will consider whether a baker can refuse to create a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious beliefs.

What’s the backstory?

Jack Phillips owns and operates Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. In 2012, Phillips refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, arguing it violated his religious beliefs. The couple filed an anti-discrimination complaint with the state, and two lower courts ruled in their favor.

On Tuesday, SCOTUS will begin hearing the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Who’s on each side of the v.?

Phillips’ lawyers argue that their client is an artist, and that baking a wedding cake is a form of free speech. Therefore, requiring a Conservative Christian baker to create a gay wedding cake is tantamount to denying his First Amendment rights.

The Trump administration agrees—in briefs filed to the court, acting Solicitor General Jeff Wall wrote:

"The government may not enact content-based laws commanding a speaker to engage in protected expression: An artist cannot be forced to paint, a musician cannot be forced to play, and a poet cannot be forced to write."

A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couple, said in an interview that:

"When you look at it, they are saying there is a constitutional right, whether it's rooted in speech or religion, to discriminate. A ruling for the bakery would have implications far beyond LGBT people and would put in jeopardy our longstanding laws against discrimination."

Now it’s Your Turn.

Are wedding cakes free speech? Is this a case about religious liberty or illegal discrimination? 100 amicus briefs have been filed and people are camping out in front of SCOTUS to hear the opening oral arguments—we want to hear yours. Tell the Countable community what you think by leaving a comment below; we’ll be reading your words and featuring your ideas in our news feed.

As always, we at Countable are deeply grateful for your engagement in our democracy.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: IvonneW / iStockphoto)

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Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(59)
  • Donna
    12/04/2017
    ···

    This baker may describe himself as an artist but he is above all else a business with the primary goal of making money. The Civil Rights Act made it illegal for any facility open to the public to discriminate against any American. I believe in every human's right to live their life as they choose, within the boundaries of societal norms and laws. I also believe in the freedom of religion granted all citizens under our Constitution. These two things are not mutually exclusive. The freedom of religion we all enjoy does not include the imposition of those beliefs on any other citizen. Once you open your doors as a business to serve the public, you are bound to serve all members of the public. If this is not your wish, close your doors and do business on an invite-only basis, as many artists do.

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  • Luke
    12/04/2017
    ···

    Business is business, heterosexual’s money spends just the same as homosexual’s money. At the same time, if you don’t support a business’ beliefs then don’t spend your money there, the power is in the hands of the consumer, not the business owner.

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  • Jim2423
    12/04/2017
    ···

    Hey if you get treated badly at any store or business go elsewhere. No need to sue to many stores and businesses that want your business. This is a free country and if a jerk runs a business go around them. Remember businesses and stores can refuse you for just about anything. A business that refuses service without a legitimate reason won’t stay in business very long. Word of mouth is cheaper than a lawyer and faster than a telephone.

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  • Mancos
    12/04/2017
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    I have no doubt Gorsuch will vote in favor of this homophobic prejudicial baker...who is masquerading this as a religious rights issue.

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  • InvisibleHand
    12/05/2017
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    It’s just dumb that anybody would even sue over this. It’s his business, he has the freedom to choose how it operates. If someone doesn’t like his policies, how he makes the cakes, or whatever, they’re 100% free to go to a different cake store and order. It’s one of the perks of living in America that either one of these people are allowed to be in that cake shop, whether they’re buying or running the shoo.

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  • Blazerman
    12/04/2017
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    Ok all you snowflakes, understand something: if it was just baking a cake fine, but if they want the business to get more involved against a religious belief they should not have to. This is more of the thought police wanting legislation telling churches and other organizations what to do...its bullshit!

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  • Deirdre
    12/04/2017
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    So does this mean I do not have to serve trump supporters because they do not follow my religious beliefs.

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  • Ticktock
    12/04/2017
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    We are very judgmental of the theocracies of other countries. We point at the backwardness of cultures in the treatment of women, children, different religious believes or cultural practices and yet we are no more socially advanced than other societies. We condemn people for their sexual preference, their race, religion, ethnic origins on and on. We claim to be capitalist but refuse to do business with someone because of our prejudices. One persons money is as good as another’s. The life style of others is as good as ours and maybe they are not as hypocritical as us. If you are in business to sale cakes what does it matter to whom the cake is sold?

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  • JTJ
    12/04/2017
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    This has nothing to do with speech or discrimination. This is about hateful liberal hypocrites who want ruin hardworking people’s businesses. Go to another baker you jerks.

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  • Paige
    12/05/2017
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    This whole thing is just plain stupid. There will always be jerks out there! While I agree that the baker should NOT have turned down the couple, the couple should have just went to a different baker... (they probably just didn't want other people to experience the same thing).therefore I am neutral. Both went too far and both could have done things differently.

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  • Ryan
    12/04/2017
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    A person’s right to religious freedom does not end just because your in business. This is about forced acceptance. Because customers beliefs differ from the owner of the business, this give the customer’s first amendment rights more preference than the owner? There are plenty of Muslim businesses who deny service based on religious beliefs. Is the LGBT going to sue a group that throws LGBT’s off of rooftops because they are being denied a service? Are the gays and lesbian business going to get into a hissy fit if Christian’s sue them for the same reason. Where does it end? And it’s not like the these Christian businesses haven’t given references to someone else who would take the job. Forcing someone to use their time and talent for something they are against on a religious basis is wrong too. These businesses do serve gays, and lesbians, but not for weddings the owner is against. The is a constitutional right. Also since when have businesses not had the right to deny service. Business will deny service if your naked. Anyone remember this, “No shoes, No shirt, No service.” So, I am totally for a business denying service base on religious grounds.

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  • Jesus
    12/04/2017
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    This is part of a reverse discrimination against the majority of us. Why i can said that? The case its clear: 1. Why did this people ask this specific baker to make this work? Coincidence? Im not that silly. 2. When somebody dont want to make business with my corporation because i dont line their policy i have a lot of options out there. Do you think is this the only baker on the area OF COURSE NOT! Simple as this! Why do we allow bars to reserve for themselve the right to refuse somebody entrance? Please people its clear like water. Move on!

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  • Mark
    12/04/2017
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    Fine, let them refuse. They do still have a right, as of this moment anyway, to say NO to anyone. It’ll just mean money in someone else’s pocket. 🖕the system. Once again, live and let live...in a country where parents raised their children to roam around, unsupervised. And, to be spoiled rotten, with entitlement being first, and foremost on their minds. Are they the ones who support THE WALL? Hypocrisy

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  • Kodiwodi
    12/04/2017
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    This Baker is wrong period. He opened a business in Colorado which specifically has laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ customers. Should you wish to discriminate this is the wrong state for you. Secondly, you own a business and in addition to not being able to put up your no blacks or gays allowed signs up anymore, it tells us what kind of business person you are in addition to what type of pseudo christian you claim to be.

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  • KenBudris
    12/04/2017
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    There is a fine line. If you sell something to one group of people but refuse to sell the same thing to another group, that is discriminatory and should be illegal. On the other hand, one should be allowed to choose what one does or does not sell. If I own a paint store and I don’t want to sell green paint, I should have the right to make that choice. And that choice may have an effect on the success of my paint store. If I am a baker and I don’t want to sell any cakes with two grooms on top, that’s my right. However, it is NOT okay to refuse to sell to a homosexual couple the same kind of wedding cake one would sell to a heterosexual couple.

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  • Loretta
    12/05/2017
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    Are there no other bakers in your town? Why would you want such a hateful person to be the one who makes the wonderful desert for your wedding anyway? Spend your money on supporting someone who supports you instead of a lawyer, and open a better bakery in town!!

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  • Dave
    12/05/2017
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    Discrimination is discrimination no matter what the subject. If you go down this path, there is no end to what a person or a business can discriminate against! Religion give you hate, discrimination, harassment, killings and justification, GOD does not.

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  • Sheryl
    12/05/2017
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    We all have certain freedoms and liberty, and our God-given creative talents belong to us and us alone. No one can or should be able to force us to sing a tune, craft a rug, create a story or bake a cake. In fact, a cake baked under duress is guaranteed to sour the stomach and a tune squeezed from a reluctant instrument is like a screeching goose or cat on fire. Beauty can come only from the willing heart- and a heart will always be fickle.

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  • Haywoodgw
    12/07/2017
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    The baker, just as any person placing a slogan on a t-shirt could, hang a sign that states “we do not bake cakes for Gay Marriages”. A person’s right cannot infringe on another person’s right, the baker not baking a cake as an expression of religious thought, does not infringe on a right to be a happily married gay couple, but preventing a person to state their opinion on such a marriage does. The cake does not prevent gay marriage, nor does not having the cake prevent gay marriage. However, the cake does in fact provoke thought as a symbolic piece, in which the baker has the right to refuse offering such thought.

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  • Truly
    12/05/2017
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    Some people are just plain bad. Their business should be called out as a bigoted, hateful place and people can make their choice if they support them. How would these bakers feel if, as an atheist, I refused to serve Christians? I’m betting they would not be pleased.

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