This week the US Supreme Court handed down judgment in Masterpiece Cakeshop et al v Colorado Civil Rights Commission et al. This is a decision which is of interest in the UK for its factual similarity with the case of Lee v Ashers Baking Company, otherwise colloquially known as the “gay cake” case which is currently being considered by the UK Supreme Court (and which has been discussed previously on this blog).
In both cases Christian bakery owners refused to create certain cakes for customers on the basis that it would contravene their religious objection to gay marriage. The judgments in Masterpiece may foreshadow some of the arguments to be discussed in the upcoming UK decision.
In this case, the US Supreme Court held that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to approach the matter in accordance with its obligation of religious neutrality. The baker’s appeal was therefore upheld — but only on technical grounds.
The owner of Masterpiece, Jack Phillips, refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony between two of his potential customers, Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins. He did, however, say that he would be prepared to make birthday cakes or other products. His stated reason for refusing to make a wedding cake was that to do so would have been a personal endorsement and participation in a ceremony and relationship which contravened his deep and sincerely held religious beliefs.