Six months. That’s how long it took to get from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act to the decision of a Colorado judge ordering a Christian baker to make a cake for a same-sex ceremony. Just six months.
Back in June, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Windsor case, ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act, passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, was unconstitutional. Six months later, judge Robert N. Spencer, an administrative law judge in Colorado, ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver must serve same-sex couples by making wedding cakes, or face fines.
Last Friday, Judge Spencer ruled that Phillips must “cease and desist from discriminating” against same-sex couples in his cake business. The case emerged after Phillips refused to make a cake to celebrate the civil union of David Mullins and Charlie Craig. Colorado has a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages, but it recognizes legal civil unions for same-sex couples. The two men had married in Massachusetts, but planned a reception in Colorado.
Phillips told the couple that it was the same-sex marriage that he could not celebrate by making the cake. According to Judge Spencer’s decision, Phillips told the court that making same-sex wedding cakes would be “displeasing God and acting contrary to the teachings of the Bible.” He told the men: “I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”
Mullins and Craig went to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took their case to court. ACLU attorney Amanda Goad told the court that Phillips’s faith, “whatever it may have to say about marriage for same-sex couples or the expressive power of a wedding cake, does not give the respondents a license to discriminate.”
Phillips told the court that making a wedding cake was an artistic endeavor that was expressive in nature, communicating approval and celebration of the same-sex union. He also told the court that he has been a Christian for thirty-five years and that making the cake would violate his Christian convictions and responsibility, requiring him to encourage what he believes to be sin.
Judge Spencer ruled that Phillips must make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, regardless of his moral or biblical convictions. Make the cakes or face legal penalties, he was told.
The editorial board of The Denver Post was enthusiastic about the judge’s decision: “If you’re going to sell wedding cakes in Colorado, you have to sell them to everyone who comes into your shop. You can’t pick and choose among customers based upon your belief that some weddings are immoral.”
So this baker in Colorado joins a photographer in New Mexico, a florist in Washington State, and another baker in Oregon in facing such a challenge or legal order. These four will not be the last, and of that you can be certain.
The moral revolution represented by same-sex marriage is vast in its scope and unprecedented in its velocity. The Windsor decision in June requires the United States government to recognize same-sex marriages. As predicted by Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissenting opinion, all that remains after Windsor is for “the other shoe to drop.”
Last week, that shoe dropped on Jack Phillips.
The Windsor decision was not directly cited in Judge Spencer’s decision. It did not have to be. It was standing in the background, representing the massive momentum of the movement to legalize same-sex marriage. Reversing the federal government’s legal position on recognizing same-sex marriage was a giant victory for the advocates of same-sex marriage, and it now looms over every legislative action and judicial decision in the nation.
Six months. That’s all the time it took for the news to shift from a landmark Supreme Court decision in Washington to a Colorado court ordering a baker to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The momentum of this revolution is breathtaking, and its threat to religious liberty is plain for all to see.
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Editorial, “No Right to Refuse Gay Couple’s Wedding Cake,” The Denver Post, Monday, December 9, 2013. http://www.denverpost.com/editorials/ci_24687970/no-right-refuse-gay-couples-wedding-cake
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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