The Supreme Court granted a limited victory Monday to a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple, finding the state showed fierce hostility toward his Christian beliefs when it ruled he broke the law with his refusal. The 7-2 decision sends the case back to Colorado with firm instructions to give Jack Phillips, the Christian baker, a fair hearing. But the ruling does not establish a First Amendment right to refuse services to same-sex couples, as Mr. Phillips and his conservative backers had hoped. Instead it suggests a road map for states such as Colorado, which have public accommodation laws, to use in evaluating cases like this one that pit First Amendment religious rights against anti-discrimination protections. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing the lead opinion in the case, said states can require people to serve all customers equally regardless of sexual orientation, as long as they justify it through law and not through animus toward religion. “The delicate question of when the free exercise of his religion must yield to an otherwise valid exercise of state power needed to be determined in an adjudication in which religious hostility on the part of the state itself would not be a factor in the balance the state sought to reach,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “That requirement, however, was not met here,” he continued. “When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires.” The ruling also seemed to set limits on how far states can go in forcing non-discrimination. Justice Kennedy said a priest or minister cannot be forced to perform a marriage or ceremony his faith would not sanction. “When it comes to weddings, it can be assumed that a member of the clergy who objects to gay marriage on moral and religious grounds could not be compelled to perform the ceremony without denial of his or her right to the free exercise of religion. This refusal would be well understood in our constitutional order as an exercise of religion, an exercise that gay persons could recognize and accept without serious diminishment to their own dignity and worth,” he said.
And that’s more than fair enough! This is an EXCELLENT ruling; a ruling in favor of the freedom of religion which has been under attack by the secular left in our country for far too long. For more on this story, click on the text above. 🙂