The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to sell a cake to a gay couple. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion hinged on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s previous ruling against the baker. Justice Kennedy commented that the ruling showed hostility toward the baker’s religion, based on the comments one commissioner who was serving on the panel made during the proceedings.
Kennedy asserted that such matters where religious beliefs appear to contradict with civil rights need further clarification in the courts and should be decided in the context of tolerance. In his career Kennedy has demonstrated a commitment to both gay rights and free speech.
Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
The case began in 2012, when the gay couple visited a bakery in Colorado looking for a cake for their wedding reception. The baker denied their request, saying he could not support same-sex marriage by serving the couple, as it conflicts with his religious beliefs. The couple says they were humiliated and filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, claiming the baker violated a state anti-discrimination law. They won their case before the commission and in Colorado state courts.
The case moved on to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which ruled that the baker’s right to free speech had not been violated because he turned the couple down before ever learning what the cake was for. The court added that the baker would not be making a statement by making or refusing the cake, and that he is free to discuss his feelings about same-sex marriage in other settings.
Free Speech Was Not the Main Focus
Surprisingly, free speech was not the crux of the Supreme Court’s case. Justice Kennedy focused more on what he considered flaws in the commission’s proceedings and members of the panel, who, he says, acted with “clear and impermissible hostility” toward the baker’s deeply held religious beliefs.
Kennedy also stated that the commission had been inconsistent in previous rulings involving opponents of gay marriage, citing at least three times a baker acted within the law in refusing to create cakes with an anti-LGBTQ theme.
The baker’s legal team called the ruling a victory for religious freedom. The couple’s representation took from the ruling parts of the majority opinion reaffirming legal protections for LGBTQ citizens. Gay rights advocates feel the decision encourages those seeking to deny civil rights to LGBTQ people and vow to fight incidents inspired by what they call a “license to discriminate” going forward.
Red Bank LGBTQ Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Advocate for LGBTQ Rights
LGBTQ rights have evolved considerably in the past few decades, but there is still more to be done. As in the Colorado cake case, the laws surrounding LGBTQ discrimination are not always clear. If you believe you have experienced discrimination in public or at work based on your ethnicity, race, marital status, gender, or sexual identity, contact the Red Bank LGBTQ discrimination lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. We will evaluate your situation to determine if you have a valid discrimination claim.
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.