When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, everyone wondered what the ruling would mean to bakers, florists, photographers, and others who choose not to participate in a same-sex ceremony. Next year we will find out.
The high court decided to take the case of Christian baker Jack Phillips. When two men visited his Masterpiece Cakes bakery in 2012 and asked for a same-sex wedding cake, he refused. The men filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and launched a campaign against Phillips. Lower courts ruled that Jack Phillips discriminated against the two men and was ordered to make cakes for homosexuals. Phillips has said he would close down the bakery before he would compromise his beliefs.
The Supreme Court decision in his case will likely have a far-reaching impact in other cases. The court’s decision may also determine the fate of Aaron and Melissa Klein (Sweet Cakes) in Oregon and Barronelle Stutzman (Arlene’s Flower) in Washington and other such cases.
In the Supreme Court decision, Justice Kennedy did make room for religious disagreement with same-sex marriage in what some have called “the golden paragraph.” He added that, “It must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” He went on to assure religious groups that the First Amendment gives proper protection to those beliefs.
Will that paragraph be enough to protect Jack Phillips and other Christians of conscience? I doubt it. It may give some slight protection to churches and Christian groups but I doubt that it will protect Christians who are accused of violating anti-discrimination laws and public accommodation laws. As you can see, the case next year will be a very important case.