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U.S. Supreme Court Sides with Colorado Baker in Narrow Ruling

U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted in Monday's decision that  cakeshop owner Jack Phillips violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law. (Jeffrey Beall)
U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted in Monday's decision that cakeshop owner Jack Phillips violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law. (Jeffrey Beall)
June 5, 2018

DENVER – On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado cake shop owner who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but also underscored that the Constitution does not give businesses open to the public the right to discriminate.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the court determined the commission denied the baker a neutral hearing by denigrating his faith.

Daniel Ramos, executive director of the group, One Colorado, says under Colorado law, LGBTQ residents are still protected from being denied services ...

"Including in businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop," he says. "So those laws still remain where people are protected from discrimination in areas of housing, employment, based on their sexual orientation and their gender identity."

While it's not uncommon for the Supreme Court to consider the motivations behind a particular law or lower court ruling, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor noted that the actions of a few commissioners did not change the fact that the baker violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law.

Lawyers representing shop owner Jack Phillips praised the ruling and said the decision confirms that the government must respect different religious beliefs on marriage.

Ramos agrees that freedom of religion should be defended as a fundamental American value, but warns that freedom should not be used to discriminate against or harm others. Ramos notes there are still 31 states where residents can be fired or denied housing just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

"So it's important now that we advocate for the Equality Act, which is a federal piece of legislation being considered by Congress that would protect LGBTQ Americans from discrimination," he stresses.

If passed, the bill also would protect people of all races, genders and religious beliefs from discrimination in key areas. Rallies in response to the Supreme Court decision were planned for Monday evening in Boulder, Denver and Grand Junction.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO