Five years ago, in the summer of 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins attempted to order a cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburbs. The owner and baker, Jack Phillips, refused to create a wedding dessert for the same-sex couple, who in turn filed a civil rights complaint that argued Phillips's actions were discriminatory and publicized their story, which turned quite a few stomachs (rightfully so).
While Phillips said that he was bound to "use his artistic talents to promote only messages that align with his religious beliefs," the state of Colorado's civil rights commission ruled that the couple had indeed been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.
Phillips appealed, and the case eventually landed in the most supreme laps in the land—those of the Supreme Court. While the proceedings are still upcoming, what LGBTQ advocates have feared since the 2016 election was confirmed yesterday—the White House administration is siding with the baker against the gay couple.
According to the Washington Post, the Department of Justice filed a brief on Thursday agreeing that "forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” as written by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall.
While this latest step in reversing the LGBTQ-friendly policies of the Obama legacy is not out of line with Trump's team's recent movements, it still rattled quite a few of the above-mentioned advocates—including Louise Melling, the deputy legal counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union who is representing the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the upcoming case.
“Even in an administration that has already made its hostility” toward the gay community clear, Melling told the Washington Post, “I find this nothing short of shocking.”
The Supreme Court has also been asked to review the firing of Jameka Evans, who asserts she was let go by Georgia Regional Hospital because of her sexual orientation and "nonconformity with gender norms of appearance and demeanor." The WP determined that should the Court agree to consider this case in addition to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, this SCOTUS term will become the most important for gay rights issues since the 2015 decision making marriage a constitutional right for same-sex couples.
"This has always been about more than a cake,” Mr. Mullins told the New York Times back in June. “Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love.”
The Supreme Court decision is expected next year.