Baker bullied, monitored, forced to attend sensitivity training, won’t back down over gay wedding cakes

A Colorado baker has taken himself out of the wedding cake business after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission said he had no right to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple because of his religious beliefs.

Jack Phillips, a bakery veteran of 40 years, told CBS4 that he will simply cut wedding cakes out of repertoire of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.

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Photo: NPR.org

If the state keeps pushing, he said, he’ll get out altogether.

“We would close down the bakery before we would complicate our beliefs,” Phillips said after a hearing last week, where the commission ruled against him in the case of two Colorado men who planned to get married in Massachusetts but have the reception in Colorado.

What makes the case really strange is that Colorado allows civil unions between gay couples, but has a constitutional ban on gay marriage approved by 55 percent of its voters in 2006. Phillips’ freedom to practice his religious beliefs should be argment enough, but he’s also reflecting the Colorado electorate in general. The gay couple Phillips refused could have gotten their cake where they got their marriage license — Massachusetts.

But the unelected civil rights commission went further than simply ruling on the case at hand. According to Fox News columnist Todd Starnes, it also ordered him to create new policies on serving gay customers, have his employees attend sensitivity training, and submit quarterly reports to the commission detailing any refusals to serve customers.

Nicolle Martin, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, called the last requirement “truly frightening.”

“There will be some reporting requirements so that Jack can demonstrate that he doesn’t exercise his belief system anymore – that he has divested himself of his beliefs,” she told Starnes.

It doesn’t sound like Phillips beliefs are in danger.

He said he’d be happy to deal with any customers – gay or straight – if it came to, say, cupcakes for a birthday party. He just won’t lend his artistic talents to consummating a “marriage” his religion won’t allow. If that means losing his livelihood, he said, so be it.

Martin said the kind of government bullying the civil rights commission is engaging in is a danger to us all.

“They are turning people of faith into religious refugees,” she told Starnes. “Is this the society that we want to live in – where people of faith are driven out of business?”

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

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