Masterpiece Cakeshop Wins Gay Wedding Supreme Court Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 decision Monday that a Colorado baker had the constitutional right to deny service to a gay couple in 2012 because of his religious beliefs.

"The Colorado Civil Rights Commission's consideration of this case was inconsistent with the State's obligation of religious neutrality. The reason and motive for the baker's refusal were based on his sincere religious beliefs and convictions," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, in 2012, citing his personal religious beliefs. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights commission, arguing Phillips violated the law in discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The court's decision in favor of Phillips sets a precedent for business owners to invoke their religious beliefs with the expectation of more legal protection."The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts," Justice Kennedy wrote, "all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market."

Phillips wrote an op-ed for USA TODAY explaining his decision to refuse service to gay couples. "What a cake celebrating this event would communicate was a message that contradicts my deepest religious convictions, and as an artist, that's just not something I'm able to do, so I politely declined," he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a statement on Twitter following the ruling. "As a nation, we've already rejected the idea that business open to the public have a license to discriminate against people because of who they are," it said.

Lambda Legal, a legal organization focused on LGBTQ rights, also responded to ruling on Twitter. "This 7-2 ruling, while limited, invites discrimination and further efforts to justify withholding service from LGBTQ people," it wrote.