Colo. cake artist’s freedom of belief, livelihood at stake

ADF asks Colo. court to reverse ruling against Jack Phillips
Monday, July 06, 2015

WHO: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco
WHAT: Available for media interviews following his oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig
WHEN: Tuesday, July 7, immediately following hearing, which begins at 9 a.m. MDT
WHERE: Colorado Court of Appeals, 2 East 14th Ave., 3rd Floor, Denver

DENVER – Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco and ADF-allied attorney Nicolle Martin will be available for media interviews immediately following Tedesco’s oral argument Tuesday before the Colorado Court of Appeals on behalf of a Lakewood, Colorado, cake artist who declined to use his artistic talents to create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex ceremony.

ADF attorneys and allied attorneys filed a reply brief in April with the court after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled in May 2014 that Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop must create cakes for same-sex celebrations and comply with Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by re-educating his staff and filing quarterly “compliance” reports for two years.

“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith,” said Tedesco. “Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views. Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees.”

According to a March 13 Marist poll, 65 percent of Americans oppose penalizing wedding vendors who choose not to provide services for same-sex ceremonies on religious grounds.

In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith.

Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which eventually ruled against Phillips. The same-sex couple was easily able to obtain their desired rainbow-themed cake from another nearby baker.

In contrast to the ruling against Phillips, the commission recently found three Denver bakeries not guilty of creed discrimination when they declined to create a cake for a Christian customer who sought to order a cake that reflected his religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

“Every artist must be free to create work that expresses what he or she believes and not be forced to express contrary views,” added lead counsel Nicolle Martin, one of more than 2,500 private attorneys allied with ADF. “Forcing Americans to promote ideas against their will undermines our constitutionally protected freedom of expression and our right to live free. If the government can take away our First Amendment freedoms, there is nothing it can’t take away.”

In another case involving cake artists, the Oregon labor commissioner finalized a preliminary ruling last week that ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein, a couple who declined to artistically design and create a cake for a same-sex ceremony, to pay $135,000 in damages to the couple who ordered the cake. The commissioner also ordered the Kleins, represented by an ADF-allied attorney, to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about their Christian convictions with regard to using their artistic talents to support same-sex ceremonies.
  • Fact sheet: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig
  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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