Cake Wars: Bakery Under Investigation After Refusing To Make An Anti-Gay Cake

Wedding_cake_with_pillar_supports,_2009We have previously discussed (here and here) the growing conflicts over businesses that decline to accommodate same-sex weddings and events in a clash between anti-discrimination and free speech (and free exercise) values. Despite my support for gay rights and same-sex marriage, I have previously written that anti-discrimination laws are threatening the free exercise of religion. Some of these cases involve bakeries that insist that making wedding cakes for same-sex couples violates their religious principles. Now we have a twist on this trending litigation. The Azucar Bakey has been found to have broken discrimination laws by refusing to make an anti-same-sex cake. The bakery was asked to make a Bible-shaped cake with an anti-gay slur and owner Marjorie Silva refused. The customer brought a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and won.

The customer wanted the bakery to draw two males holding hands with “a big ‘X’ on them.”

Silva identifies herself as a practicing Christian and makes Christian cakes, but balked at making an anti-gay cake at her Lakewood bakery in December 2013. Previously in Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips broke discrimination laws when he refused to make a cake for the same-sex wedding of Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig in July of 2012. That decision was upheld by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Now we have the flip side. Silva offered to leave the bible page blank to allow the customer (who she describes as disruptive) to write whatever he wanted but she declined to write it herself. Ironically, she could have simply refused to serve him on the basis for any disruption in the store. She was later sent a notice by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) that a religious discrimination complaint has been filed against Azucar Bakery. She has since received a notice from DORA requesting a final letter describing her account of events.

The question raised by these cases is whether anti-discrimination laws are driving too deeply into free speech rights. Bakers and photographers view themselves as engaged in a form of speech generally. The loss of a bright-line defining free speech has meant that we are finding ourselves increasingly on a slippery slope of speech regulation. On the other hand, we fought hard to guarantee accommodation for all races in places of public accommodation. Stores are not allowed to ban black customers under the same rationale. The question is whether there is a difference between refusing to serve customers on the basis for sexual orientation generally as opposed to taking an active or direct role in a same-sex wedding.

Where do you think we should draw the line?

Source: KDVR

270 thoughts on “Cake Wars: Bakery Under Investigation After Refusing To Make An Anti-Gay Cake

  1. Karen S … I agree with your bit about small business and banks, vis a vis loans or lines of credit. They are not easily acquired.

    If anyone here, with actual experience, can cite me one bank, any bank, that doesn’t require said small business person to counter sign and pledge personal assets (like their homes, et al…) as collateral, please tell me where to apply. Been there, done that, in my sojourn in the private sector…and every single bank document included personal guarantees before the loan was made or letter of credit issued. I am willing to listen…but do cite the bank involved. I imagine there is at least one, somewhere.

  2. On on John Turley’s blog will you see people champion the reduction of human rights because those rights ‘offend’ the people that use their religion as a basis for being bigots.

    Gay people should have the exact same rights as any straight person. If you disagree, you are en enemy of freedom. Judges declaring bigotry laws unConstitutional is not tyranny, it is saying that bigots do not get to vote to deny equal protection to groups those bigots hates.

    We wouldn’t have to deal with this crap if people valued the ideals of the Constitution as much as they claim they do.

    But most of the people only care about the Constitution when it benefits them and the things they approve. When the Constitution rules against them, like declaring black people as full citizens with the same rights and protections as whites, or that slavery is unConstitutional, or that not only is homosexuality not illegal, but that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as straight people, the people that enjoyed oppressing everyone else whine about how they lost the power they stole so long ago by declaring the people they don’t like as less than human.

    Losing your ability to deny equal protection of law to other people is not a violation of your religious beliefs. It is the Constitution saying that the rule of law doesn’t bend to your particular religion. If you want a theocracy, go to Saudi Arabia or Iran.

  3. A lot of name-calling in the comments here. Hard to hear good points over that. Makes them all too easy to dismiss. And that’s a shame. Because a good point is always worth trying to successfully get across the table and into the other person’s consideration rather than simply under their skin.

  4. If I was the baker, victim of this litigation, I would fashion a cake depicting all the members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. I would have them in bed with a copy of the First Amendment and depict them having oral sex with each other. I would put this in the window of the store at street view. Then post it on the internet. Hey, someone paid me to do it.

    • I’m pretty sure the baker is going to prevail anyway, but I’m not sure your suggestions are the way to encourage a favorable ruling.

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