‘This is simple intolerance’
Let’s be real about this. The baker is not being asked to do anything that violates his religion, unless his religion prohibits the baking, decorating and selling of cakes. What the baker is doing is attempting to impose his religious beliefs on others. This is simple intolerance, and he is breaking the law which prohibits discrimination. Any sane judiciary would see this and make short work of it.
‘What happens when the public stands for ideas which are abhorrent?’
I do see this as a freedom of speech issue. Many comments here make the argument that, “If you serve the public, you must serve all the public.” On the face of it, that sounds great, but what happens when that public stands for ideas which are abhorrent to the business owner?
Was Airbnb violating the rights of white nationalists when it canceled their reservations in Virginia a few months ago? If the KKK wants a celebration cake made, can the baker and the recreation hall owner choose not to enter into that contract, despite “serving the public”?
‘Conservative money has the same value as liberal money’
I own and operate a printing company. We make graphic tees, printed coffee mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, you get the idea.
We live and work in a conservative Colorado city on the other side of the Continental Divide from Denver. My husband and I are left-leaning, especially socially. Most of our customers, both retail and wholesale, are Trump supporters, whom I personally find repugnant.
But when they come in and order a stack of religious, gun-toting slogans on bumper stickers, I make them. Despite my discomfort at aiding the spread of some of their messaging, I make them.
Because my business is open to the public, because conservative money has the same value as liberal money, because my company is not capable of having its own moral ideas outside of what I built into it, because that is the only intelligent way to run a successful business.
‘There is a distinction between a pre-made cake and a custom-designed cake’
There is a distinction between a pre-made cake sitting in a display and a request for a custom-designed cake. This falls within the category of art or craft, not merely the sale of food.
A portrait painter may choose who they will accept a commission from. I would think that the cake designer would fall within the same category.
So long as the bakery allowed the sale of pre-made cakes or cakes that one selected from a book of available cakes, where no real creativity was involved, to L.G.B.T. couples, it should be able to allow a cake designer to refuse to design a custom cake for the same couple
We shouldn’t force people to create ‘bespoke products against their will’
I don’t think we should compel people to produce bespoke products against their will. This isn’t like selling an existing product or allowing someone access to a pre-defined service.
I doubt that as an interior designer Mr. Craig would want to be compelled to take a commission to design the interiors for a right wing conservative group, particularly if he felt their mission statement was in direct violation of his beliefs.
As an architect I would be unlikely to accept a commission from a prison or casino on the basis of personal beliefs. If we are going to create a free and equitable society we need to allow for people to disagree in civil ways. That means that sometimes we will be disappointed, or gain negative business reputations.
‘The baker has no grounds for refusing to make the cake’
Jack Phillips has an artistic right to refuse to do designs that he doesn’t like. Maybe he doesn’t care for baby shower cakes that depict the mother’s bulging tummy or wedding cakes with kissing same-sex couples. That’s his prerogative.
But it’s discrimination if he sells a wedding cake to a woman who enters his store and then immediately refuses to sell a wedding cake to two men.
It’s one thing to be selective about the kind of designs that he is willing to do. If he chooses not to carry Adam & Steve wedding toppers or to create decorative sculptures of the couple or to embellish the cake with a couple’s names, that is his right. But if the two men are fine to have a design like what he has already done for others, the baker has no grounds for refusing to make the cake.
If the baker is arguing that his cakes reflect his personal moral beliefs and he can’t sell to anyone who violates them, then he should run background checks and vet all his other cake buyers, too!
Frankly, the baker is in the wrong business if he thinks that he must control what is done with his cakes after he has made them. The young woman may be ordering the cake to celebrate a feminist marriage to herself or maybe the “couple” getting married are her two dogs.
‘This case would set a terrible precedent’
A ruling for the baker in this case would set a terrible precedent for this country. My partner and I could be legally discriminated against at a variety of businesses with no legal recourse. It would make entry into an unfamiliar business fraught with anxiety and worry.
This is one of the Trump administration’s most egregious and loathsome positions that history will not remember them kindly for. Any L.G.B.T.Q. person that supports this administration also supports legal discrimination against them in the name of religion.
‘The baker did not refuse because of who the plaintiffs are’
The baker did not refuse because of who the plaintiffs are. He refuses to serve them because of what they were doing. This is a major difference that should be recognized by the law. The defendant, though many would disagree, should have every right to refuse service.
If he had a policy of refusing to serve gay people the law would have every right to sanction him. However, in this case he should not be forced to participate in a ceremony antithetical to his religious beliefs.
‘I don’t know of any artist that gets to pick her audience’
I don’t know of any artist that gets to pick her audience. An artist makes the thing: painting, book, or whatever it is, and then it goes out into the world as it is. An artist doesn’t know how it will be received, or who will pay attention to it, if anyone.
This isn’t a case about artistic or religious expression, and it makes no difference how beautiful his cakes are. It’s about a prima donna cake decorator thinking that he can control what happens to his “art” after it leaves his workshop.
‘People do have a right to be wrong in their beliefs’
As an artist and illustrator I have turned away clients on principle. I refused a big assignment from a tobacco company, for instance. I would not work for a large meat producer, as I am a vegetarian. These are not religious beliefs but strongly held principles.
The fact that our baker in question does not refuse to sell baked goods to gay customers for other events or to sell to a wedding planner, who might happen to be gay, is relevant. I think the baker is an artist, and there is a question of speech here. Refusing to rent a tent or tables and chairs for the event is another matter. Clearly that would be discriminatory.
Perhaps the interaction at the bakery could have been handled better, with kindness and best wishes or even a referral. People do have a right to be wrong in their beliefs.