The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Jack Phillips, a cake artist from Colorado, in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission on Monday, June 4. The court ruled the Colorado Civil Rights Commission punished Phillips unjustly when he refused to design a wedding cake for the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple, in 2012.
This decision is by no means a regression in the field of LGBT rights, but rather a ruling of justice that will solidify every person’s religious freedom.
The court recognized that Phillips has a legitimate religious belief that same-sex marriages violate. His refusal was not out of hatred or discrimination, but rather out of personal, religious obligations.
He never discriminated against any of his customers based on who they are or what they enjoy, but rather accepts everyone into his shop with open arms. According to the court record he even offered them anything else in his store or to design a cake for a different occasion — one that did not directly conflict with his religion.
He has declined to design cakes celebrating divorce, Halloween and wild bachelorette parties as well.
In 2012, Colorado had not yet legalized same-sex marriage, so to expect an artist and business owner to renounce his religious convictions and to recognize it over the state would be preposterous.
This case is about finding the divide and cooperation between one’s faith and art. Jake Phillips is an artist who wanted to use his talent to convey messages that he and his church believe to be good. He did not become an artist to do anything that he was fundamentally against.
If the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had been successful, then Phillips would have lost 40 percent of his business and half of his employees.
What the Supreme Court did Monday was set a precedent to protect religious individuals like Phillips from religious hostility.
Consequently, protecting his religious freedom is protecting his art and the art of those to come. Government cannot mandate art and should not be able to lean over our shoulders to make sure that our art abides by the standards that other people set out.
Art exists to express oneself, which is exactly why Phillips created his family business. Silencing his voice and mandating his art are restricting the rights that are granted to him in the First Amendment.
Every right corresponds with a duty. In this case the right to practice one’s religion and the freedom of speech through the expression in art directly correspond to the government’s duty to protect exactly those rights, and the court did that this week.
I feel no offense as a member of the LGBT community from the decision made by the courts, but rather I feel like I am in a country that can adequately uphold religious freedom. I feel no disenfranchisement or discrimination, but rather a sense of security.
The Supreme Court has upheld freedom this week. The court recognized that a preference of cake shop does not surpass religious freedom. There is no place in this country for religious hostility, and the court recognized that this week.
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