Metro Weekly

Anti-gay group outlines major arguments in Colorado baker’s Supreme Court case

Alliance Defending Freedom argues case is not about validity of same-sex marriage, but suppression of free speech

Photo: Ralph Daily, via Wikimedia.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the anti-LGBTQ group representing Colorado baker Jack Phillips in his attempt to undermine Colorado’s nondiscrimination law, has filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court outlining the major arguments they will use in order to justify refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

ADF argues that Phillips did not violate Colorado’s law prohibiting discrimination against people based on sexual orientation when he refused to bake a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig’s wedding reception.

ADF says Phillips’ reserves the right to refuse to do custom artistic projects based on his own personal beliefs about what constitutes a marriage.

They further argue that designing custom cakes is artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.

Thus, by trying to compel him to bake cakes for same-sex couples, Colorado’s anti-discrimination law is actually denying Phillips his First Amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

Lastly, ADF argues that if the government should not be allowed to declare certain beliefs are unacceptable and push them out of the public square.

It claims that trying to require Phillips to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding constitutes an endorsement of the cake’s message, and forces him to suppress his own speech.

Yet just because Phillips’ view may be unpopular doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to continue designing cakes as he sees fit.

Otherwise, they argue, the government could target other beliefs or expressions of free speech based on their content, amounting to censorship.

In order to remedy the situation, ADF says, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission needs to allow for some religious-based exemptions when it interprets the extent to which the nondiscrimination law protects LGBTQ people.

“Respondents insist that any interpretation of [Colorado’s nondiscrimination law] that does not punish Phillips would fatally undermine the statute’s purpose. That is not true,” the brief argues. “Again, the court below recognized, and the Commission admitted, that cake artists may decline to create custom cakes with designs or messages that they deem objectionable, even when that speech is intertwined with a customer’s protected status. This existing limitation on CADA’s reach disproves Respondents’ argument that the statute’s effectiveness will be ‘necessarily undercut’ if Phillips’s liberty is protected.”

The brief also urges that court to reject any “slippery-slope” arguments that allowing Phillips to refuse to bake certain cakes will lead to a flood of lawsuits by people of faith who also wish to refuse goods or services to LGBTQ people.

“Time and again, this Court has applied the First Amendment to pave the way for people with diverging views on core issues to live together. It should do so again in this case,” ADF concludes. “Robust religious and expressive freedoms advance pluralism, protect other civil liberties, and promote true tolerance and civility. These freedoms benefit everyone, no matter their beliefs about same-sex marriage.

“To remain on this path toward liberty for all, this Court should reverse the judgment of the Colorado Court of Appeals and hold that the [Colorado Civil Rights] Commission’s order fundamentally conflicts with Phillips’s First Amendment freedoms.”

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