Should Christian Bakers Make Wedding Cakes for Same-Sex Marriages (They might not have a choice)

A baker in Colorado has been told by a judge to make a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony or be fined! His position is not that he is discriminating against homosexuals. He has said, "I'll make you [homosexuals] birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don't make cakes for same-sex weddings."

Well, it looks like he no longer has a choice. I wonder how long until pastors won't be given a choice.

See the new article here or below:

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Judge Orders Colorado Bakery to Cater for Same-Sex Weddings

Dec. 7, 2013
by LIZ FIELDS 
 
PHOTO: A judge orders a cake-maker to serve gay couples.

Administrative law judge Robert N. Spence found Friday that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver, Colo. violated the law when he turned away David Mullins, 29, and Charlie Craig, 33, from his shop last year.

In his written decision, Spence ordered that Phillips "cease and desist from discriminating" against gay couples, or face financial penalties, and cited Colorado state law that prohibits businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

"At first blush, it may seem reasonable that a private business should be able to refuse service to anyone it chooses," Spence wrote. "This view, however, fails to take into account the cost to society and the hurt caused to persons who are denied service simply because of who they are."

Mullins and Craig married in Massachussets and had originally gone to Masterpiece in July 2012 because they wanted to a cake for their wedding reception in Colorado. When Phillips refused, the pair went to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) on their behalf.

According to the complaint, Phillips told the couple that the store policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods for a same-sex wedding, based on his religious beliefs.

Phillips told the men, "I'll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don't make cakes for same-sex weddings."

The judge's decision states in its Finding of Facts that Phillips believes creating same-sex wedding cakes would be "displeasing God and acting contrary to the teachings of the Bible."

In concluding that Masterpiece Cakeshop acted unlawfully, a CCRC investigation also showed evidence that Phillips was willing to bake a cake for the "marriage" of a pair of dogs, but not for two women.

"Being denied service by Masterpiece Cakeshop was offensive and dehumanizing especially in the midst of arranging what should be a joyful family celebration," Mullins said in statement. "No one should fear being turned away from a public business because of who they are. We are grateful to have the support of our community and our state, and we hope that today's decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado."

Nicolle Martin, an attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop, told The Associated Press that the judge's decision was "reprehensible" and "antithetical to everything America stands for."

"He can't violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck," Martin said. "If Jack can't make wedding cakes, he can't continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system."

Phillips can appeal the judge's order, which is expected to be certified by the Civil Rights Commission next week. Martin said they are currently considering their next move.

ABC News Radio and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

19 comments
  1. He has a choice, he can choose to close his shop like he said he would if he had to serve same sex wedding cakes, he can choose to not provide wedding cakes, or he can choose to run his business without discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation which is against the law.

    As the judge wrote in his decision “The salient feature distinguishing same-sex weddings from heterosexual ones is the sexual orientation of its participants. Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not “because of” their sexual orientation.”

    Churches and therefore pastors fall under different laws than those of a place of public accommodation within this case. Considering pastors are protected under the free exercise of religion and free speech clauses of the First Amendment I doubt pastors will be stopped from discriminating against people as they are free to do now. The judge’s decision clearly says why the shop owner is not protected by these clauses in preparing a cake and should comply with the law.

  2. Mark, yes, pastors have that freedom – for now. I think that will change within 25 years. I hope you are a loud voice protesting that change. 

    Mark, I assume you would use the same argument if polygamy was legal. Right? Or if it were legal for a person to have a ceremony marrying their dog or a ten year old marrying a sixty year old. Im assuming you would say that businessman should provide the cake for their ceremony if it were legal. Yes?

    Just wondering.

  3. All the homosexual couples I know and have heard the opinions of basically say the same thing: any church that doesn’t want to marry them, they don’t want anything to do with. They’ll associate with those who are open and welcoming to them, thanks. There are a few who’d be disruptive and push the issue, but the majority have no desire to go where they aren’t wanted.

    If anyone did end up filing suit against a church/pastor who refused to marry them, I’d hope the church/pastor would win on First Amendment grounds, because it seems a no-brainer. The flip side of the government being constrained from meddling in affairs of faith is there is faith/religion is not supposed to interfere in the running of the government and the legislative process. Whatever our personal beliefs, they are just that: our *personal* beliefs.

  4. Cheryl – 

    Help me understand what you are saying. You are saying that no homosexual would want to be married by someone who doesnt want to marry them. But wouldnt the same be true that a same-sex couple getting married wouldnt want someone to make their cake or take their photos who cant congratulate them or be excited for them? 

    I would think if providing a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage violates the cake-maker, he/she shouldnt be required to gain business in that way. If a cake-maker is opposed to re-marriage for any reason – I would think it would hurt his business, but he would have a right not to participate in the celebration if he/she would choose. 

    Why would you hope the pastor would win in 1st amendment grounds, but not the photographer or cake-maker? Im not sure I see that as consistent, Cheryl.

    If the government should meddle in the affairs of faith – the faith of a pastor or the faith of a photographer. 

    Our personal beliefs have impacts on what our consciences allow us to do.

  5. I don’t have such a pessimistic view that the First Amendment would be over turned that easily or quickly. Yes, I would protest such a change as that change would also undermine my free exercise of religion (or lack there of as the case may be) and free speech.

    If (and that is a tremendously huge if) polygamy, bestiality, and pedophilia were legal and protected under the law then yes the company would have to provide a cake for them if the law required it by the same argument. However this is not the case and such things are not protected under the law as sexual orientation does not cover those. Seeing the shop owner was willing to make a cake for a dog wedding, his idea of marriage seems a little looser than yours or mine. I do not understand the propensity of people to jump to bestiality and pedophilia when discussing same-sex marriage which are unrelated, is not between consenting partners. Polygamy would be related and I have no issue with people that choose polygamous relationships, not my thing but it works for others.

    Within this case the shop owner actively discriminated based on sexual orientation. In the same way if the couple was interracial and he refused to make a cake for their wedding because it was his religious belief that races shouldn’t mix he would be discriminating based on race. Both are illegal under the Colorado law. He can appeal the ruling and move it to a higher court, but unless anti-discrimination laws are deemed unconstitutional I don’t see that he has much of a case.

  6. This baker should CERTAINLY have the freedom to refuse to provide his services to anyone… on ANY grounds. After all, it is his private business, and not a government run institution. He did not in any way HARM the couple in question, he simply refused to take their money in exchange for a cake. This is NOT a hate crime. Surely there are other bakers who would be happy to earn the dough… (pun intented.) If this baker had said that he simply already had too many orders for the time frame in question, that would be his perogative as well. It is quite a slippery slope when governement is allowed such easy access to our affairs… and I submit that it is this bakers constitutional rights which have been violated here, NOT the homosexual couple’s. Now, if I were this baker, I might run my business differently, but hey, isnt that kind of freedom what America is about?

  7. Mark,

    Let me ask you some other questions. If you own a cake shop in New Hampshire and you are asked to do a wedding for a 13 and 14 year old (they both have parental consent). You would do it? And you think no matter if someone objects to it – they should be required by law to make that cake? Is that right?

    If your position is consistent – that if it is legal, you cant refuse someone your services – no matter of your convictions – then I respect you for being consistent – even though I would disagree.

    If a cake shop owner wont make a birthday cake for a homosexual simply because he is a homosexual – I agree that isnt right. But to kindly refuse to make a cake to celebrate a wedding that one cant celebrate as a legitimate wedding before God makes sense to me. I see that as very different than someone who refuses to make a birthday cake for someone who is a homosexual. 

    Similarly, if a Westboro Baptist Church asked a cake maker who is a Marine to make a cake for them to celebrate their 1000th funeral celebration of a dead military man, I think he should be able to respectfully say no to making that cake. 

    Again, if you are consistent – then I can respect your viewpoint.

  8. Melissa – 

    I tend to agree with you. Im trying to think of a circumstance in which I wouldnt agree, but Im not sure I can think of one.

    If a diner owner in the south was racist and refused to serve African-Americans – would I be okay with that? I would certainly disagree with him, and be happy to spread the word about his racism. But if he said it was a religious conviction and truly was – I would totally disagree with him, and I would never go into his diner, and I hope eventually he loses his business because people wouldnt put up with his racism. If he couldnt support how it was a religious conviction – then I could see fining him or requiring him to serve all races. But Id hope his racism would shut his business down. I would think he is a jerk and ignorant, but Im not sure Id force him. 

    If I went to a restaurant and an owner refused to serve me because of my beliefs about the Bible, I wouldnt like it, but I guess I feel he has a right not to serve me in his restaurant – as a private business owner. Id be happy to let people know that he wouldnt serve me and let people decide whether or not they wanted to frequent that restaurant. 

    For sure I dont think that the government should force a small business to serve someone in a way that violates their religious convictions. Should the government force a small business to serve someone they just dont want to serve? That Id have to think more about, but maybe you are right. Im still struggling through that one.

  9. I am conflicted on this issue. On the face of it, government interference in the private sector is becoming increasingly intrusive. There are MANY businesses now (Ivy League schools, country clubs) who earn a living “discriminating” against individuals looking to patronize them. A scenario in which Harvard is no longer allowed to discriminate based on intellect is not so far-fetched as it might once have been. And that is…alarming.

    But there is precedence for government intervention in the private sector that was utterly correct and necessary. I think here of the laws prohibiting businesses from refusing service based on the color of a person’s skin.

    In either case…whether the state of Colorado is within its rights to force this gentleman to make this cake or not (and based on current law, I’d say they are) I can’t help but wonder whether taking such a stand is useful from a Christ-follower’s perspective.

    This seems to me to be dangerously close to imposing Christian morality on unbelievers. In the scenarios I can think of from the Bible (like Daniel refusing to eat the king’s food), the position taken was a highly personal one. Daniel didn’t spend his time railing against all the other people eating that food — why would he? They weren’t followers of the Law.

    If this were an issue of the baker being personally forced to marry another man himself, then I would agree whole-heartedly that he should take a stand. But there is no sin that I can think of that prohibits baking a cake. And I doubt VERY highly if his refusal to do so was motivated by a concern for the spiritual condition of these two men. So I ask myself exactly what has been accomplished…and I don’t have a great answer.

  10. David, I think a couple things have you and Melissa confused. There is a difference between the way we think things should be and the way that our current law code works. What is legal and whether I agree or disagree with its legality are separate issues, and here I am mainly concerned with what is legal, and consistent under the law. Where I might personally agree with you and Melissa that a shop owner should be able to refuse service to anyone, and let their own discriminatory policies put them out of business. History has shown us this doesn’t actually work and does cause harm to people and that is why we have the anti-discrimination laws to begin with. Do you really think the discrimination in the south that MLK fought against wasn’t harming African-Americans? When discrimination occurs in the public sector people aren’t treated as equal citizens.

    As to your questions. I am not aware of what NH’s anti-discrimination laws are but if they are similar to CO then it wouldn’t be a problem to refuse to provide services because CO law doesn’t forbid discrimination based on age in places of public accommodation. Would I personally do it, sure, they have parental consent, my issues with such marriages is not with the children but with their parents. If I made a cake for their wedding that doesn’t mean I endorse such unions, just providing a service in exchange for payment. A former Marine who is a baker would be able to refuse Westboro, as his refusal wouldn’t be discrimination against a protected class.

    I understand why this doesn’t make sense to you. Your job is intricately link to your beliefs, you are free to officiate the marriages you choose and the law protects your freedom to do that. If you were a public servant, like a judge in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, you would not be free to refuse, just as another judge was removed from the bench for refusing to marry an interracial couple based on his religious beliefs.

    Where you might want to celebrate and congratulate a couple that you have married that is not necessary, you are preforming a service for the couple, just as a baker and a photographer are doing. The big difference is your duties are required to preform the ceremony, assent to it and approve it by signing the marriage documents that is where you would be acting against your conscience in a same-sex marriage. A baker and photographer are not in conflict with their conscience by doing their job that they do for similar occasions. I could see a conflict for them if they were required to decorate a cake or publish photos that would indicate they supported same-sex marriage when they do not. This is also covered in the judge’s decision, and why a pastor would win on First Amendment grounds but a baker or photographer would not.

    With the case of the shop owner he could have refused to make the couples cake without repercussions, his mistake was informing people that is was because they were homosexual. If he had said he simply was unavailable to do their wedding cake without giving reasons he probably would have saved himself a lot of trouble.

  11. Cheryl – 

    First of all – my biggest takeaway from what you are saying is that you think I may qualify for Harvard soon!! hello!!!!  AWESOME!! 🙂

    I totally agree that we cant impose morality. Im using the example of cake makers because of the news, but I primarily think about photographers. I think both of those jobs arent just jobs to them. They would sincerely believe their job is to make the persons celebration better and they are participating in the celebrating.

    Personally, I dont see it as trying to make the country moral. That Christian photographer isnt hoping no photographer will take their photos. They are just saying that they cant personally do it – as they cant celebrate something that they firmly believe is an offense against God. Ive had more than one discussion with photographers in our church about this issue. 

    Perhaps because of my role in weddings – I cant imagine someone simply providing a service without their heart being in it and supportive of those they are providing that service to. 

    You mention they may be refusing to do it because of their spiritual condition… I guess I dont see it that way. If someones career is an event coordinator. If they are asked to coordinate a birthday party – they would do it regardless of the persons spiritual condition or sexual orientation. They can celebrate any human beings birthday, but to coordinate a celebration (a wedding) that he believes is offensive to God – I believe that should be within his rights.

    Cheryl, what if you were asked to ghostwrite a book for someone who is writing a book proving God doesnt exist? Your job as a ghostwriter is to make that persons writing better than it would be without you. And to make their arguments more credible and more convincing. It is my opinion that you should be able to say no based on your beliefs and how it would violate your conscience to improve someones arguments against the existence of God. I may be wrong, but I see that as similar to asking a Christian photographer to celebrate a same-sex marriage with a couple by taking photographs of the ceremony. 

    Anyway, it is an interesting question that isnt hypothetical – thats for sure.

    I think, sadly, as Mark has pointed out – a Christian will just have to say Im not available without giving the reason to avoid being fined or sued. And perhaps that is the best way to handle those moments. 

  12. Mark – 

    You are exactly right – there is a difference between the way we think things should be and the way our current law code works. And whether I agree or disagree with its legality are separate issues and although you are mainly concerned with what is legal and consistent under the law – I am concerned with more than that. Im concerned with Gods judgment on participating in celebrating something He condemns. Those are very different issues. 

    I would love it if – under the law – a Christian could not participate in celebrating an event (like a same-sex marriage) that violate their conscience (not to legislate morality for others, but to not be personally involved IN that celebration). If that is not the case – I think Christians will have to figure out how to handle those moments. 

    It seems your advice is best – simply say, Im not available but dont give the reason. Hopefully the people asking wouldnt keep pressing or we would be back in this very situation.

    I think its complicated. 

    Perhaps because of my role in weddings – I totally understand and photographer saying that taking photos is not simply providing a service. It is participating in the event. I totally get that.

    If a Christian owned a hotel – I dont think they need to ask for the marriage license for each couple that rents a room – just like when someone builds a house – dont think they need to make sure the couple who buys it is married. Again, perhaps because of my role in weddings – I definitely see photography as different – as do most Christian photographers I know.

    Interesting problem that isnt hypothetical.  As I mentioned to Cheryl – I think I would just recommend to the baker and Christian photographer simply not be available without giving the reason for their lack of availability.

    Thanks for interacting on it. I doubt these issues will decrease in coming years.

  13. If I may make one more comment. In regards to a photographer or a baker being a participant in a wedding. Would you consider a war zone photographer to be participating in the war? When you are out on a date with your wife, is the waitress and chef participants in the date?

    I know for myself if I hire a photographer for my wedding I require them to take pictures, not to be sitting with the guests, taking in the moment, eating, drinking, dancing, etc. I hired them as an observer to document, not to participate. Same with a baker I hire them to make a cake, not for them to attend, and participate in the celebration themselves. Majority of photographers and chefs are hired for these events and may not have contact with the people outside of the event. Because of the celebratory nature of wedding they may feel like participants but that is not their role. If they are not fulfilling their role then I can sue them for breach of contract.

    If a Christian photographer has no issue with photographing a Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, or atheist wedding, then there should be no issue with a homosexual wedding. Just like Paul says a Christian buying meat sacrificed to an idol is nothing, the Christian understands they are participating in the act with the financial exchange.

  14. I would make the cake . . . for starters: John 8:7. Perhaps it may be better to err on the side of The Gospel in reaching others and demonstrating Christ’s relentless love for the fallen . . . than to fall on one’s own sword of prideful morality. I’m guessing that the baker’s initial and subsequent actions will do little to move himself or those lost in sin whom he serves closer to The Gospel of Christ. I wonder what goods, services, and care he could be denied either by someone who felt they were a higher moral authority than himself . . . or based on his own sinful actions and misgivings? Does he not make cakes for adulterers, thieves, liars, or addicts of all sorts . . . ? It’s an interesting question . . . to which Christ’s own love of the lost maybe the answer. It may prove to be a opportunity squandered . . .

  15. A few responses and then we’ll just agree to disagree, shall we? 🙂

    I certainly would not take a job as the ghost writer of a book touting atheism. I would not do this because I believe to do so would be sin on my part. Actively helping to “smear” the name of Christ is not something I’m prepared to assist in. And I would gladly accept any consequences I might encounter for such a decision.

    But let’s say that I was approached by somebody who wanted to write a book about life in India and part of that book involved discussing being Hindu. I’d probably take that job even though I don’t personally agree with Hindi doctrine.

    I guess I wonder what line you would draw if you were a Christ-following baker. Would you bake a cake for Hasidic Jews? Muslims? a couple who was on their 5th marriage each?

  16. I agree that the baker in question should not have openly stated why he was refusing. I also would have just made the cake if I were him. However. We are not talking about Jim Crow or any other government sanctioned public discrimination designed to dehumanize people, as MLK fought against. We are talking about the christian convictions of the baker and whether the law allows him to adhere to said convictions when conducting his business. There was a saying we learned in school: “A man’s right to swing his fist ends at another man’s nose.” In other words, this couple’s freedom to be married to each other and seek goods and services in support of their celebration does not
    trump the bakers right to practice his faith by not providing said services for a marriage which violates his convictions. Now, if this were an interracial couple, baker has NO leg to stand on.

  17. Mark – 

    Would I say a photographer is participating in the war by taking photos? No. Not if his job is to take whatever photos he sees. He is not celebrating the war or taking a position against the war. YET – if is has convictions against war, and is a free-lance photographer, I would argue that he can turn down that job based on his convictions. 

    I think you would hire a wedding photographer, and their job is to take photos that make you feel celebrated and attempt to make the event look even better than it was. Ive never talked to a Christian photographer who describes their job similarly to a chef making a dish in a back room. For the chef – it is about the dish… for the photographer (as an artist) – they want to enter the celebration and make the bride and groom feel special, loved, admired, and make them look better than they actually do (touch-ups) and happier than they actually may have been (taking the photo at the right moment). 

    I obviously think we see some things very differently. I would have no objection to two Jews being married. Ive performed weddings for two unbelievers. Marriage is a good and honorable thing. God would be more pleased with two unbelievers married than two unbelievers dishonoring him by sexual intimacy while unmarried. To help two Jews or two Muslims celebrate their wedding vows would be a great thing! The ceremony isnt about Muhammed. It is about the couple. They happen to worship a different god than I do. But it is the joining of a man and woman (Gods idea in the first place) that I am there to celebrate. I see no issue with that.

    You mention Paul and meat offered to idols. Paul was not talking about making the idol that is being worshipped or participating in the offering to the idol. I dont see that connection in my mind.

  18. Cheryl – 

    I dont think we disagree on most of what you are saying. We might disagree that you being a ghostwriter helping frame arguments against Gods existence being a sin. I might argue that it is.  But both you and I would turn that job down for basically the same reason. 

    But I agree that being a ghostwriter about life in India and it includes discussions of the writer being Hindu – I dont see that as an issue that a Christian ghostwriter would need to turn down.

    As a baker, would I bake a cake for a Jew or Muslim? Sure… Unless it is a cake to celebrate their son signing up for jihad. If the purpose of the cake is to celebrate something specially that God will judge one day – Id struggle with it. I personally cant imagine baking a cake to celebrate a gay couples wedding – knowing that on judgment day they will answer to God for that. And I helped them celebrate it. I personally would struggle with that.  But to bake a birthday cake for a Muslim man – he would not be judged for celebrating his birthday. That is a significant difference that I see.

    As for a couple on their 5th marriage each… I would assume as a baker that I wouldnt know the details and it certainly IS possible for someone to get married for the 5th time and the 5th one – they are doing it on a God-honoring way.  And it isnt the marriages that God wasnt pleased with – it could be the divorces. I would err on the side of grace there – assuming the best. But if I knew the groom was marrying a rich widow who was dying of cancer and he just wanted her money – and I knew this to be true because he told me he didnt love her but knew she had terminal cancer… no I wouldnt bake the cake. An extreme example, but there are situations beyond same-sex marriage that I would refuse to participate in.

    Again, it has nothing to do with their personal beliefs or even lifestyles. It is choosing to celebrate something that God clearly will directly judge, and Romans 1 indicates strongly that this particular issue is the final step of God giving people over to their own depravity. I would struggle to take that job.

    But yes – I also am fine with disagreeing. I just am not sure we are talking about the same issues. Who knows… such a difficult culture in which we live to live out our worldview. 

  19. David, You got it exactly. A photographer uses their talent to frame a picture of what they see no matter their ideological stance of the subject matter, be it war or a wedding. Even one who is against war can, and some do, take those assignments so that others see and know what is happening. A wedding photographer doesn’t need to celebrate with the couple to use their artistic talent to make great photos for the couple, right timing, lighting and composition doesn’t depend on there ideology of the subject. A chef or baker are using their artistic talent in the same way, and their art doesn’t depend their ideology, they can make great dishes or cakes no matter the end use.

    I am surprised that you think God would be more pleased with two unbelievers married than two unbelieves unmarried having sex. “Anything not done in faith is sin,” an unbelievers best virtue and good work is still depraved, unless your view of Total Depravity is changed. A marriage between two non-Christians wouldn’t have any more legitimacy before God, than two people merely living together.

    The only real difference between a same-sex wedding and a couple going on to there 2nd, 3rd, 4th.. Marriage is one couples “sin” is apparent to you and the other is not. (Deut 24:1-4, Matt 5:31-32, 19:1-12) You would give one the benefit of the doubt, error on the side of grace, but reject the other even though both are “sinning.”

    I had a typo in my last comment that should have read “Just like Paul says a Christian buying meat sacrificed to an idol is nothing, the Christian understands they are not participating in the act with the financial exchange.” I was making the comparison that a baker or photographer is not sinning through the financial exchange of goods or services provided to a same-sex couple as a Christian is not sinning by buying and eating meat that has been bought after being sacrifice to an idol, even though that Christian is enabling the continuation of that practice.

    Melissa – Through history racism and discrimination have been justified by religious ideas and practice. Christianity and the Bible were used to defend slavery and segregation. Mormons had their own religious reasons for discrimination, the caste system in India stands on religious belief. You may not agree with their understanding or interpretation but it is no less their belief and their right to believe it.

    Harlan made an excellent point, discriminating against people because you want to defend you religious liberty, is more likely to cause you to lose an opportunity to bring them closer to the Gospel, or may cause them to reject it forever. Better to error on Wheaton’s Law, Jesus had his own version too 🙂

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