Illustration by Amber Lipsey
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“Let them eat cake,” they said. Unless you’re a same-sex couple from Colorado purchasing a wedding cake from Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. In that case it’s highly unlikely due to his bigoted, out-dated views and intolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community.

Regardless of one’s preconceived beliefs, it’s unethical for businesses to discriminate against a person based on their skin color, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. But that isn’t solely factored in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, as the SCOTUS is still playing footsie and failing to draw conclusions on whether to allow Phillips to deny a service.

It’s understandable on why the case hasn’t reached a settlement yet, being that there are two clashing sides that offer a valid point. Phillips denies his request of service to make a same-sex wedding cake by asserting that it goes against his religious views. On the other side, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, the couple denied from Phillips’ services, saying that they were discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

However, there is a tipping point to this issue. While Phillips says that making a same-sex wedding cake would be an act of “rebelling against God,” he bases the crux of his rebuttal on the right to express the freedom of religion and speech. Sure, Phillips can express his own belief that marriage should be only between “Adam and Eve,” but consider that he does run a business. If Phillips wants to deny a certain group from his services, he should rethink his decision on continuing to operate a business. Customers are simply trying to purchase a business’s goods, and they shouldn’t feel be refused services just because of their sexual orientation. That’s just unethical.

According to Colorado Civil of Civil Rights Division (CCRD)’s website, its main slogan states that the agency enforces anti-discrimination laws in public businesses, employment and housing areas. Which means, there are certain aspects of Colorado’s civil rights law that prohibit discrimination. It’s apparent enough that Phillips’ preconceived religious belief was an act of discrimination. It played a part on his decision to not offer the wedding cake to Mullins and Craig. His reasoning alone is to justify his homophobic beliefs, asserting that it’s fine to marginalize a particular group based on one’s likings just by being protected from the First Amendment.

Additionally, Phillips laments over that baking the cake to the couple would somehow convey a message that commemorates the idea of supporting LGBTQ rights. There are no rainbow flags plastered throughout the cake that convey a declaratory message of support. Rather, a typical wedding cake depicts two figures holding hands together on top of a cake, whether it be a heterosexual or gay couple.

In one post, he further vocalizes the idea that designing a wedding cake is much more than “just a ‘tower of flour and sugar.” Instead, it’s a “message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event—a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding… an occasion for celebration.” This prose seems to be quite a stretch. As mentioned briefly, the grandeur display of two male figurines holding hands together doesn’t convey the support of LGBTQ rights and wouldn’t necessarily go against his religious views. His sheer reasoning alone is flawed, considering how he stated that wedding cakes are simply a commemorative message of a special event—not a support towards a community. That isn’t conducive enough to merit the basis of Phillips’ overall argument on not baking the wedding cake for Mullins and Craig.

It’s a troubling issue when organizations—such as the Westboro Baptist Church—publicly express their homophobic comments without any fear of facing repercussion due to free speech. In theory, it evokes a sense that making derogatory or racist remarks can be protected from the First Amendment, just because you’re allowed to express whatever you wanted—even if it’s incited by pure hatred or ignorance. It’s even said by Phillips, as he stated how “The First Amendment defends my right to make custom cake art that is consistent with my faith.”

Everyone has the right to exercise their speech or religion, but to an extent, there is a limit. An act of love or getting wedded isn’t as detestable than the act of inciting violence in a speech. It’s just discriminatory to deny someone their rights just because it doesn’t follow your own religious views. It’s unfair to harbor an attitude of viewing homosexual couples to be different than heterosexual couples. But most importantly, it’s unjust to deny services when businesses are open to the public. Putting these beliefs aside, you get to see them for who they truly are—and not just a viewing them to be sinful as portrayed in the Bible.

We’re one of the most progressive nations that sought for equal treatment towards marginalized groups, but it’s disheartening to know that the Masterpiece Cakeshop case hasn’t been settled yet. Yes, everyone has the freedom to express their speech and religion; however, when it comes to a point where racists can verbally harass others and know that it’s protected by the amendment, then history would just repeat itself by making these same mistakes.

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