SCOTUS sides with baker in same-sex wedding case

SCOTUS sides with baker in same-sex wedding case

Supporter Ann Sewell, who brought a clutch of congratulatory balloons to the bakery, compared Phillips' bravery to people opposed to the Vietnam War.

The newlyweds filed a complaint with the state civil rights commission, which forbid Phillips from refusing service again.

In the past 13 months, federal appeals courts in Chicago and NY also have ruled that gay and lesbian employees are entitled to protection from discrimination under Title VII.

The court did not decide the overarching issue of whether a business can refuse to serve gay people; Kennedy wrote the issue "must await further elaboration", while also stating that it's a "general rule" that religious objections don't allow business owners to deny equal access to protected classes of people "under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law".

The court ruling was hailed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative nonprofit organization that supported Phillips' appeal.

Waggoner said the decision "makes clear that the government must respect Jack's beliefs about marriage". "The court was right to condemn that".

"This will surprise lots of people until they read what actually happened", Richard Primus, a constitutional law expert at the University of Michigan Law school, told Newsweek of Kagan and Breyer's decision to join the majority. "Anti-LGBTQ extremists did not win the sweeping "license to discriminate" they have been hoping for".

Baker Jack Phillips' case at the Supreme Court had been closely watched for the justices' willingness to carve out exceptions to anti-discrimination laws; that's something the court has refused to do in the areas of race and sex.

"That consideration was compromised, however, by the commission's treatment of Phillips' case, which showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the honest religious beliefs motivating his objection", Kennedy wrote.

The justices, in a 7-2 opinion, took a narrow approach that avoided the big question - where to draw a line between religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws - that had made it a potentially landmark case on a hotly contested social issue.

Such statements, Kennedy wrote, indicated "clear and impermissible hostility" toward his religious beliefs.

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"This case will affect a number of cases for years to come", she said.

The view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, Kennedy wrote in that ruling, "has been held-and continues to be held-in good faith by reasonable and honest people here and throughout the world". They were married in MA because same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Colorado. "Because it did play favorites, because it expressed hostility towards [Phillips], that's why the case was reversed". And they have ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The decision will likely mean the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will rehear the case, although there's no reason to think the outcome will be different even if the commissioners approach it differently as advised by Kennedy.

Liberal states may be more inclined to protect the rights of same-sex couples, while conservative states may be inclined to limit those rights in the name of protecting religious freedom.

"The American people overwhelmingly agree that such protections should be extended to the LGBT community, and Georgia Equality calls on our state and federal leaders to pass nondiscrimination legislation that does just that", Duncan said.

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The high court had weighed in twice before on the subject of same-sex marriage.

But he said this ruling would not apply to other similar disputes. NPR's Tom Gjelten reports. He is a devout Christian who says his deeply held beliefs include that God intended marriage to be the union of one man and one woman. Somebody who holds that view, the court was saying, is not necessarily a bigot.

Phillips' shop in Lakewood, Colorado, offers a variety of baked goods, and he considers himself a cake artist.

In the decision, Kennedy writes those words from the commissioner demonstrates hostility toward Phillips' religion both by describing as despicable and by characterizing it as merely rhetorical.

CHARLES HAYNES: For Justice Kennedy, that was a warning sign.

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