Court rules baker can't refuse to make cake for gay wedding
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The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled under the state’s anti-discrimination law that a baker opposed to same-sex marriage may not refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage.

The court rejected arguments from Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., that baking the cake violated his First Amendment rights.

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“We conclude that the act of designing and selling a wedding cake to all customers free of discrimination does not convey a celebratory message about same-sex weddings likely to be understood by those who view it,” Judge Daniel M. Taubman wrote in the 64-page opinion.

The court ruled that a bakery constitutes a public accommodation, which bars it from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA).

“Masterpiece remains free to continue espousing its religious beliefs, including its opposition to same-sex marriage,” the decision said. “However, if it wishes to operate as a public accommodation and conduct business within the State of Colorado, CADA prohibits it from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation.”

Phillips contended that refusing to bake a wedding cake for same-sex couples does not constitute discrimination, citing his willingness to bake other items for gay customers.

But the court rejected this argument in its decision, calling the distinction “one without a difference.”

The decision affirms a ruling handed down by the Colorado Civil Rights Division in 2014.

Phillips, who is represented by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), has not announced whether he will appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

“Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live and work consistent with their faith,” ADF senior legal counsel Jeremy Tedesco said in a statement. “Government has a duty to protect people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally rather than force them to adopt the government’s views.”

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, the couple seeking the cake.

The liberal Freedom For All Americans released a statement Thursday celebrating the ruling as a “tremendous victory for fairness and equality.”

“No one should have to live with the fear that they’ll lose their job or home, or be denied basic services, simply because they’re LGBT,” the statement said.