Free speech is not an excuse for discrimination


Graphic courtesy of Tatyana Bennett

Jack Phillips says cake is his art so he should have free speech

by Lilly Player and Rachel Player

In 2012, David Mullins and his partner, Charlie Craig, walked into Masterpiece Cakeshop, owned by Jack Phillips, and asked for a wedding cake. Phillips denied their request for a wedding cake, saying that making a wedding cake for a same sex marriage was against his religious beliefs. Mullins and Craig filed a civil rights charge, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission took on their case. As this case has advanced through the courts, decisions have sided with Craig and Mullins each time. This case is now at the highest court. In June, a typical month for weddings, the Supreme Court will reach a decision.

Phillips believes his cakes are works of art, and forcing him to make a wedding cake for a gay couple would be using his artistic talent for something he believes to be morally wrong. After Phillips lost his case from arguing religious beliefs, he changed his defense to a statement about free speech. He says forcing him to make a cake for the couple would be violating his free speech, because he would be forced to help celebrate something he does not consider to be right.

If found in favor of the plaintiffs, then it would mean no business could refuse service to a customer based on their sexual orientation, even if their religious beliefs are against same sex marriages and relationships.

Senior Danielle Murrah said, “I think gay couples should be treated as equally as a straight couple. Just because we are attracted to certain people doesn’t mean we should we be treated any differently.”

For example, no one could be denied at the grocery store because they are gay. This would be an important landmark in LGBT history because the Supreme Court would be ruling in their favor and enforcing the Civil Rights Act not just for colored people, but for the LGBT community as well.

Craig reported to CNN Politics, “This isn’t about artistic expression. I don’t feel like we asked for a piece of art, or for him to make a statement. We simply asked him for a cake, and he denied that to us simply because of who we are.”

However, if Phillips wins, there could be some negative effects. For example, a waitress could refuse to seat a couple simply because they are LGBT. In past cases brought to the Supreme Court under violations of free speech, the judges have favored the free speech, which means there’s a big chance they will vote in Phillips’ favor. Phillips feels that by forcing him to make wedding cakes for same sex marriages, he would be advertising his support for LGBT unions.

He testified that it would be violating his free speech because he would be forced to voice support for something he is against.  In an interview for CNN Politics Phillips said, “I feel I’m being compelled to create artwork for an event — an inherently religious event — that goes against my faith, and I’m being compelled to do so under penalty of jail time and fines.”

At the end of the Supreme Court term the Justices will decide who wins the case, but my fingers are crossed for Craig and Mullins.