Homophobic Cake Baker Wins Supreme Court Case, But Don’t Panic

The Colorado baker from Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding has won his case in the Supreme Court.

While it’s discouraging to see any example of discrimination against LGBTQ people being supported by the courts, it’s not necessarily as big of a blow as you may initially assume: the Supreme Court’s decision came with a whole lot of asterisks.

For starters, the ruling is ultra-specific to this particular circumstance, and will not carry a significant precedent like many other Supreme Court decisions do. “The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy.

By the same token, Kennedy’s majority opinion also maintains a commitment to gay rights. “Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity or worth,” wrote Kennedy. “The exercise of their freedom on terms equal to others must be given great weight and respect by the courts.”

He also reiterated that as a “general rule,” business owners couldn’t deny equal services to LGBTQ customers.

Great – so why then did the court take the side of the baker?  

Apparently, the justices were concerned that Colorado’s civil rights commissioners demonstrated “hostility” towards the baker’s religious beliefs. In other words, they believe commissioners demonstrated intolerance of the baker’s intolerance and came down on him too harshly for feeling the way he did.

Kennedy particularly objected to one of the Colorado commissioner’s comment that it was “despicable” for the baker to use religion as an excuse to discriminate. The justice felt like that was a comment meant to “disparage his religion” and even make it seem insincere.

Again, that doesn’t mean that the commission didn’t have the right to enforce the law – just that it should have done so in kinder words. Basically, he’s advocating that the government demonstrate a bedside manner when dealing with religious people so that it doesn’t give the appearance of discrimination occurring on both sides.

Those who don’t like this ruling cannot simply blame it on the court’s right-leaning wing. The decision was 7-2, with Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer also signing on. Many court-watchers feel that the fairly meaningless verdict was the result of some behind-the-scenes compromise to not take a firm stance on this issue yet.

Though the decision may embolden other business owners related to the wedding industry like florists, caterers and dressmakers to decline service to same-sex couples, in no way does it actually validate their right to discriminate. More likely than not they’ll have to bite their tongues and do the job anyway – as will the civil rights commissioners who may be tempted to call these entrepreneur jerks for putting up a stink in the first place.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

52 comments

Dave fleming
Dave f4 months ago

TFS

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Karen H
Karen H4 months ago

You're right, Pam W.

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Donna T
Donna T4 months ago

thank you

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pam w
pam w4 months ago

"Muff Ann" (who says "nobody should be forced to do what they don't want to do." WHICH COUNTRY DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN? I might not want to pay taxes, support public schools, fund emergency services, allow churches to be tax-free....BUT, I DO...because THAT IS THE PRICE OF CITIZENSHIP! So, do you think I should be able to refuse medical care to a bleeding/dying patient because he's a Muslim and I don't WANT TO SERVE HIM? Hmmmmm? Maybe you think you can refuse to pay taxes because they support public schools who actually teach SCIENCE? Maybe you think you can refuse to pay taxes to support my atheist public school? TOUGH! We do these things because we support our fellow citizens. GET USED TO IT.

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Angela G
Angela G4 months ago

I don't fully understand this

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Leo Custer
Leo C4 months ago

thank you for sharing!

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Karen H
Karen H4 months ago

Oh, Karen Swenson, I wish I could give you more than just one little star.

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Karen Swenson
Karen Swenson4 months ago

@Muff Ann--"Nobody should be forced to do something they don't want to do." Does that include forcing women to give birth when they do not want to? Does that include forcing blacks to sit on the back of the bus, not being allowed to swim in the public swimming pool, drink out of public fountains.?? Some people--many people have had to be forced into being human beings! They can and do still hold those sick views, but they do not have the right to impose them on everybody else.

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Karen H
Karen H4 months ago

Julie D, you're so right. A relative was telling me about having a recent conversation she had with a man who claimed to be "a good Christian", and throughout their conversation he kept telling her she was doomed because she didn't have a relationship with god. She asked, "How do you know my relationship with god? I was taught to pray in private, not scream my beliefs from the rooftops." This is the same man who wants all Muslims killed because "they haven't accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior." Whatever brand of "Christianity" he's peddling, I don't want it!

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Julie D
Julie D4 months ago

Discrimination based on fanatical religious beliefs should not be tolerated at all ever. A real Christian would "treat others as you would like to be treated", and "love another as you love yourself", that would be sincere religion. This bakers religious bigotry is bullshit. That the Supreme Court upheld his right to discriminate is even worse.

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