The U.S. Department of Justice has sided with the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple based on his religious beliefs as the case moved toward the U.S. Supreme Court.
The department issued a brief supporting the position of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver who declined to create the custom cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012, Fox News reported.
Colorado state courts had ruled against Phillips, stating that his decision violated the state's anti-discrimination law, Fox News wrote. But the Justice Department took up his cause in a brief to the nation's highest court this week.
"When Phillips designs and creates a custom wedding cake for a specific couple and a specific wedding, he plays an active role in enabling that ritual, and he associates himself with the celebratory message conveyed," acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief, according to Fox.
"Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights," the brief continued.
The Justice Department pointed out that Phillips' refused to bake the cake at the time when Colorado itself did not recognize same-sex marriages, which did not come until 2014, the HuffPost reported.
"In other words, the state itself did not acknowledge the validity of the union it sought to compel petitioners to celebrate," the department stated, per the website. "Especially given that background, the state has not advanced a sufficient state interest to override petitioners' weighty First Amendment interest in declining to create the expression at issue here."
James Esseks, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project wrote Thursday that the Justice Department's position allows for gays to be discriminated again more broadly.
"This case has never been about the cake," Esseks wrote. "It's about whether anyone in America can be turned away from a business because of who they are. It's about whether the Constitution gives businesses the right to discriminate whenever they want to. Everyone in this country should be opposed to such a radical ruling that would undermine America’s core commitment to equality."
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