Friday, August 14, 2015

Court Upholds Order Against Bakery that Refused Wedding Cake For Same-Sex Couple

In Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc., (CO App., Aug. 13, 2015). a Colorado appellate court, in a 64-page opinion, affirmed the decision of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (see prior posting) that a bakery's refusal to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple violates Colorado's public accommodation law, and that the Commission's cease and desist order does not infringe the bakery owner's free exercise or free speech rights. The court rejected the bakery's claim that its refusal to create the cake was "because of" its opposition to same-sex marriage, not because of its opposition to plaintiffs' sexual orientation. It held that because same-sex marriage is entered into only (or predominately) by gays, lesbians and bisexuals, the conduct cannot be divorced from status.

The court rejected defendants' argument that requiring them to create the wedding cake would amount to unconstitutionally compelled speech:
such conduct, even if compelled by the government, is not sufficiently expressive to warrant First Amendment protections.
Finally the court concluded that the cease and desist order did not violate the Christian owner's free exercise rights under the state and federal constitutions because the Colorado Law Against Discrimination is a neutral law of general applicability. Colorado Springs Gazette reports on the decision.