A year ago, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop. When asked to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, he declined. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission declared that he was in violation of the state’s antidiscrimination act.
Although the court ruled in his favor, a number of Christian attorneys and leaders lamented that it was a narrow ruling. The justices didn’t really address the larger issues of whether any business can refuse service on the basis of religious objection. But I have found that often Supreme Court decisions are like falling dominoes. Other judges get the message, and we can begin to see the dominoes falling in favor of religious liberty rather than against it.
Two examples illustrate this. Last month the US Court of Appeals ruled in favor of two videographers in Minnesota who produce commercials, live events, and other videos. They declined to produce a wedding video for a same sex couple based on their religious beliefs.
Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of two Christian artists who design wedding invitations. They were asked to custom design material for a same-sex ceremony but declined. The court made it clear that their ruling was limited to the two artists and not a blanket exemption from the ordinance for all their other business operations.
But not every court seemed to have received the message. The Washington state Supreme Court ruled against florist Barronelle Stutzman who declined to provide a flower arrangement for a same sex ceremony. The US Supreme Court vacated the ruling and ordered the state Supreme Court to reconsider the case in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. But the state court’s judges came back with the same decision. So she now wants he US Supreme Court to reconsider her case.
I believe the justices need to take up her case and send a strong, clear message.