Judge Tells Baker: You Can’t Sell Wedding Cakes Only To Straight Couples

In a case similar to another wedding cake situation in Oregon, a baker in Colorado who turned a same-sex couple away has been ordered by a judge to serve all couples, straight or gay, or face fines. The judge said that by refusing to accept gay customers, the owner of the bakery was discriminating against them.

In the order from the administrative law judge he writes that the business discriminated against the two men” because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage,” reports the Associated Press.

If the bakery wants to be in the wedding cake business, it must “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples. Thus far the judge hasn’t levied any fines against the bakery but it’ll face fees if it keeps turning away gay couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a complaint against shop owner with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of the two men who had been married in Massachusetts and wanted to have a party in Colorado to celebrate their nuptials. When the owner found out the cake was intended for a gay wedding, the complaint says he turned them away.

The lawyer for the cake shop owner said that this order puts the man in a tough situation.

“He can’t violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck,” she said. “If Jack can’t make wedding cakes, he can’t continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system. That is a reprehensible choice. It is antithetical to everything America stands for.”

The Civil Rights Commission will probably certify the judge’s order next week. In the meantime, the man can appeal the judge’s order.

The couple is “ecstatic,” says one of the men of the judge’s decision, and hopes that it’ll stop similar situations from happening again in the state.

“To a certain extent, though, I don’t think that this is necessarily a surprise,” he said. “We thought it was pretty clear cut that he had discriminated against us.”

Judge orders Colorado cake-maker to serve gay couples [Associated Press]

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  1. SMeierOH says:

    I don’t think this is a good thing. And i am sure my fellow gays will take issue with my stance but i don’t feel the government should have a right to force anyone to do anything as long as they aren’t harming someone. Being gay is just a small part of who I am. I don’t feel the need to force someone to believe the same as me. If they want to remain close minded and ignorant that is their choice, this is supposed to be the home of the free. And that includes the freedom to be stupid.

    There are other bakers, protest outside the store but let his business fail because he is turning down a HUGE client base.
    If we start telling people who they can and cant serve, what is next?

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      That’s easy to say because unless you’re planning a same-sex wedding, people will generally assume you’re straight unless you let them know otherwise. Are you really OK with private businesses hanging signs saying “No blacks”, or having whites-only sections again? And if you are, do you think you should be able to decide this for all black people?

      • MathManv2point0 says:

        SingleMalt, I have to agree with you. Generalizing and saying a business has a right to refuse service to anyone is discriminatory (black, white, in a wheel chair, gay…etc). Certain groups have a right to be protected (and served) equally under the law.

        However, just to continue the conversation, could the cake shop owner open something like a House of Worship that worships cakes and thus be allowed to refuse sacraments (Serving of Cake) to certain groups? He could then accept donations to his church for the sacraments and then hire himself as an employee.

        • SingleMaltGeek says:

          Form a church to skirt the law? You’d have to have a lot of money, maybe recruit vain and gullible Hollywood stars, and feed them some bunk about the cakes being created by aliens. I guess it would help if you were a science fiction writer.

    • furiousd says:

      I completely agree with you, SMeierOH, the baker should be able to serve or refuse service to whomever they choose. If they take a stance, they should be able to do so without government oversight as long as they aren’t actively trying to harm anyone. If the sentiment of the area is that they are wrong, then they’ll lose a massive amount of business. But government-endorsed opinions from either side of any issue opens up a lot of unfortunate opportunities for future institutionalized enforcement. For instance, if the next administration is decidedly anti-blonde and businesses were penalized for doing business with blondes (ridiculous example, yes) and we’ve already set the precedent for the government to interfere in private enterprise with who I decide to go to for goods and services of my own free will, then where will it stop?

      Just as the rights of the couple to shop, work, live, etc. where they choose should be protected, so should the rights of this baker be protected to serve whomsoever he pleases.

      • MarthaGaill says:

        So, if they want to discriminate based on race, you think that’s okay? What about against men? No cakes for any male. About about people with disabilities? It’s ridiculous. If you’re going to have a business, you need to follow the law. Period.

        • furiousd says:

          MarthaGaill, yes. And then it’s our right as consumers to drive them out of business by not giving them our money. I think that every person should not have to be afraid to have their own opinion whereas now they are forced to have or abide by whatever the current government administration’s collective opinion on a matter is. It should be the consumers that have an effect on businesses, not a 3rd party that wasn’t involved in a transaction (or potential transaction).

          Some corroborating viewpoints from other commenters here:
          Cara: “I do not think you should give your business to someone who is being forced to do business with you.”
          SuperSpeedBump (&OliverPickles): “I kinda like the idea of businesses posting signs that identify what forms of discrimination they observe. That would make it a lot easier for me to boycott them and go with someone else instead.”

          • C0Y0TY says:

            If you allow one business to discriminate, then the remaining may be encouraged to do it as well, leaving no services available for the victims. In some communities, all the businesses will refuse to serve blacks or gays or women or Indians or whoever “their kind” is, and think nothing of it, unless they’re forced to reconsider their bigotry by law.

          • PhillyDom says:

            MarthaGaill wrote:

            So, if they want to discriminate based on race, you think that’s okay?

            furiousd replied:

            MarthaGaill, yes. And then it’s our right as consumers to drive them out of business by not giving them our money.

            That worked sooooo well in the Jim Crow South.

            • furiousd says:

              I’d much prefer that the actions of people are driven by their own conscience and that they be corrected by friends and neighbors than to have an organization create laws pretending to regulate morality and have everyone forced to feign getting along, all the while the underlying issues fester rather than healing take place within the individuals

              • MarthaGaill says:

                That is absurd. People won’t correct those who are discriminating. It’s the bystander effect. Yeah, a few may be vocal, but by and large, I think people will just ignore it.

                Neighborhoods will start to form around the businesses that openly discriminate and we’ll have closed off pockets of hate. Anti-discrimination laws should be blanket. You want to operate a business in America, you serve all customers and follow the law.

              • PhillyDom says:

                That might work in an ideal world. The problems are:

                1) We’re not in an ideal world, and
                2) If we were, there wouldn’t be discrimination.

            • furiousd says:

              Also, how’d you get the quote boxes? I like the style

            • furiousd says:

              PhillyDom said:

              That worked sooooo well in the Jim Crow South.

              The more I think about this, it seems like you’re making my point – that government should not try to legislate morality. In the “Jim Crow South” I imagine there were people that said, like MarthaGaill: “follow the law”. And the law at the time also wasn’t fair or right. Rather than succumbing to an institutionally-endorsed mindset, good people fought those laws so that we have the changes we all enjoy today. Now instead of citizens of African descent being discriminated against, in the name of anti-discrimination laws protecting same-sex couples, a business owner is being discriminated against by the government in ordering him to enter into a private business deal with a person he should be able to elect not to.

              No matter the current opinion of the masses, the rights of individuals should be preserved to do as they please so long as they do not infringe upon the rights of others. Not the feelings of others, but the rights of others, and they do not have a right to demand a cake and to use the government to enforce their will upon another person. It’s just another form of slavery, except we’re using the government to enslave one another, which is wrong any way you look at it. The man refused service, he didn’t paint anti-gay graffiti on their private property, no one’s rights were violated except the baker’s.

  2. Cara says:

    While I can definitely agree with the need for businesses to not discriminate, I do not think you should give your business to someone who is being forced to do business with you. Especially if it’s for something handmade, where they might not put full effort into it.

    Wedding cakes are expensive. I’d want mine baked by someone who is going to be happy to make it, not someone who will relish trying to get on cakewrecks.com.

  3. SuperSpeedBump says:

    I kinda like the idea of businesses posting signs that identify what forms of discrimination they observe. That would make it a lot easier for me to boycott them and go with someone else instead.

  4. PhillyDom says:

    Exactly what “belief system” is being violated by baking a cake?

    This baker professes to be a Christian. Unlike homosexuality, there’s a commandment in his religion against adultery. Is he going to refuse to bake cakes for adulterers who want to get married? Of course not. Is he going to refuse to do business with everybody who has violated one of his faith’s rules? Of course not – he’d go out of business.

    This isn’t about his religion – nothing in Christianity bars the sale of baked goods to gays. This is about his trying to score holier-than-thou points with his fellow religionists, and about making a public show about how much he really, really thinks gays are icky.

    I don’t think this baker or anyone else should be allowed to flaunt religious beliefs as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to break the law.

    • furiousd says:

      I doubt it’s the general sale of baked goods to gays, but the fact that it’s for what I imagine he perceives as a mockery of marriage. I wouldn’t be surprised if a friend or other person he knew came in and said, “Hey! I’d like to get a cake that says ‘Happy Anniversary, Sharon'” When the baker knows that his wife is named Judy, it would bring to light that the man is living two lives and being unfaithful to his wife (for this example, we assume that the cake is being purchased for him and whomever he’s committing adultery with rather than… his widowed mother). I know I’d turn him away as I wouldn’t want to participate in celebrating something that I disagree with and that goes against God’s commandments as I understand them.

      I do agree with your other point though, far too many people use religion as a shield while fully acting in hypocrisy.

  5. C0Y0TY says:

    If he is truly committed to his beliefs, and he truly believes them, then he will make his sacrifice to God and close his business. Martyrs give their lives to God. Abraham was willing to give his son. If the cakemaker thinks it’s unreasonable for him to demonstrate his faith, however misplaced, then he’s a hypocrite. If he’s using God as an excuse to discriminate, then he’s no true Christian.

    Or he can obey the law and learn to love instead of hate, like a true Christian.