Same-sex wedding cake decision gets applause from both sides in Utah

Elected officials and advocacy groups on both sides of the argument claimed victories on Monday after the Supreme Court’s ruling on a gay wedding cake case that fueled years of debate pitting gay rights against freedom religious.

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who in 2012 refused to create a personalized wedding cake for a gay couple, saying his constitutional protection of religious freedom had been violated by a court ruling. state civil rights commission on the case. .

But this narrow ruling, based on concerns unique to this particular case, does not say that opponents of same-sex marriage are permitted to deny commercial services to same-sex couples on religious grounds.

Baker Jack Phillips at the Supreme Court in December 2017.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, specifically reaffirmed that businesses open to the public cannot discriminate against same-sex couples and that religious objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services.

The decision, which appeared to both uphold gay rights protections and leave open the possibility of similar cases being decided individually, had supporters on both sides of the issue claiming victory in Utah, earning plaudits from defenders gay rights and religious freedom, and the state’s all-Republican congressional delegation.

“I applaud today’s decision,” U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch said in a written statement. “Hostility to religion has no place in government. At the same time, religious freedom means much more than freedom from hostility of government. Courts must protect the ability of believers to live their lives freely. faith and to express their religious beliefs openly and honestly.”

Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, said via his official Twitter account that the Colorado commission’s “hostility” to Phillips had been “inconsistent with the First Amendment.”

“Today’s decision is a victory for our nation’s founding principle that our laws should be enforced in a religion-neutral manner.”

Proponents of fair treatment for same-sex couples also said they were happy with the ruling, although the ruling favored Phillips, as the Court was clear in its insistence that gay people and same-sex couples “cannot be treated…as inferior”. in dignity and worth.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, with President Trump at the White House in April 2017 for the swearing in of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

“For more than 50 years, Americans have agreed that a person should not be fired, expelled, or deprived of goods and services because of who they are,” said Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, a Salt Lake City-based LGBTQ advocacy group. which has chapter members across the state. “Today’s decision affirms these principles in that LGBTQ couples should be afforded dignity and worth in society and in the law.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the case on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the men who were initially denied service, said Monday’s decision reaffirmed the fundamental principle that businesses open to public cannot discriminate.

“The court did not accept arguments that would have rolled back the era of equality by rendering our basic civil rights protections unenforceable,” the organization wrote in a response on its website.

The Case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, had primarily been challenged on free speech before, with Mullins and Craig filing a lawsuit with the Colorado commission after the incident and winning a ruling there and then in state courts.

In this file photo from Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, Equality Utah Director Troy Williams speaks during a press conference at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City.  Utah activists say they are taking a new front for LGBT rights by challenging a law in court that bans "plea for homosexuality" in schools.

It sparked a national debate, with gay rights groups and supporters arguing that same-sex couples should be entitled to equal treatment, while opposing religious groups argued that the government should not be able to to force business owners to violate their religious beliefs.

The High Court extended same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015, just two years after a 2013 ruling that the federal government recognized same-sex and lesbian marriages in states that had legalized them.

Follow David DeMille on Twitter, @SpectrumDeMille.

READ MORE:

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