Op-ed: Colorado baker case can be win-win for LGBT protections and religious liberties

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The couple found another bakery for their rainbow-themed wedding cake, yet the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found Phillips liable for unlawful discrimination.

Scores of businesses, religious organizations, scholars and legislators have submitted arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a Colorado bakery that declines to create custom cakes in celebration of same-sex weddings. Uniformly, they affirm that the First Amendment prevents Americans from being compelled to celebrate ceremonies they don’t support. We agree that’s a fundamental right under the Constitution. We’ve also argued there’s a practical reason for recognizing this First Amendment right — it’s a win-win for religious liberties and LGBT protections. Sound counterintuitive? We’ll explain.

Walk up to Masterpiece Cakeshop’s storefront and you’ll see the bakery’s logo combining an artist’s paint palate with a baking whisk. Like many custom cake designers, Phillips sees his work as an art form — meticulously crafting each cake through hours of sketching, sculpting and hand painting. It’s a profession that blends his “skills as a pastry chef, sculptor and painter.”

When a gay couple “requested that Phillips design and create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding,” Phillips politely declined, citing his religious belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. Consistent with his philosophy to serve all people but not all events, Phillips told them he was “happy to make and sell them any other baked goods.” Phillips also declines to make cakes celebrating Halloween, expressing anti-family themes, or containing hateful messages (such as disparaging LGBT people). As Phillips put it to the Supreme…

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