Civil rights triumph, for now, in Colorado

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is hailing a decision by the Colorado state appeals court yesterday, ruling that a baker cannot invoke religious beliefs as an excuse to deny services to a customer. FFRF signed onto an amicus brief submitted by Americans United for Separation of Church and State in support of the gay couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado.

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, refused to make a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig for their 2012 wedding reception. “I’m a follower of Jesus Christ so you can say it’s a religious belief, but I believe that the Bible teaches that that’s not an OK thing,” Phillips had announced.

The unanimous three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals wrote that Phillip’s religious beliefs do not trump the state’s anti-discrimination law.

“This is a significant victory,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Religious freedom does not and should not mean that religionists are above the law, or that basic civil liberties can be denied to gays or others on the basis of religious objections.”

In July, a state agency in Oregon required a bakery to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple it refused to provide a cake for. The baker is appealing. In Washington state, a florist was fined $1,000 in March after refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

Gaylor noted that the issue is far from over, with even more egregious violations of the law occurring. A county clerk in Kentucky on Thursday, defying a federal court order and a direct order from Gov. Steven L. Beshear, refused to issue a license for a gay couple. Kim Davis, a clerk in Rowan County, claims her Christian faith allows her to pick and choose which couples can marry in her county. The ACLU is suing on behalf of a gay couple. Protesters of her action held picket signs such as “Clerk not Clergy” and “We the People.”

In Alabama, probate judges in 13 of 67 counties are declining to issue marriage licences to anyone in order to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

“If you have such strong religious objections to doing your job, then you should choose a different profession,” Gaylor added.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend