The US Supreme court has ruled in favour of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a gay wedding cake.
On Monday, the court ruled 7-2 that the rights of Jack Phillips, owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, had been violated by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The Commission in 2014 found him guilty of discrimination after he refused to make a wedding cake in 2012 for a gay couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig.
Citing his religious beliefs and his right to freedom of expression, Phillips fought the decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
In their ruling, the majority of the justices found that the Commission was “neither tolerant nor respectful of Phillips’ religious beliefs,” especially in comments made by some of the commissioners.
The judges said that, “The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion” and that “Phillips was entitled to a neutral decision maker.”
The ruling was made more on the basis of the Commission’s improper non-neutral and hostile handling of the case rather than on whether a business should be allowed to refuse to serve a same-sex couple. The court suggested that this principle could rather be settled in future cases.
The justices said that, “the outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg disagreed with her colleagues’ rationale. “What matters is that Phillips would not provide a good or service to a same-sex couple that he would provide to a heterosexual couple,” she wrote.
“I see no reason why the comments of one or two commissioners should be taken to overcome Phillips’ refusal to sell a wedding cake to Craig and Mullins,” Ginsburg added.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted in response to the decision that it was important to note that while the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of the baker, it “did NOT rule that the Constitution gives a right to discriminate.”