In a win for religious and small business management freedom, the US Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of a Christian baker from Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple due to religious reasons. The decision came back 7-2 and found that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission improperly handled Jack Phillips case claiming they were showing hostility to his religious practice. By doing so, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that his first amendment right to freedom of religion was being abridged.
The case itself has not clearly provided a precedent for cases like this, however. As per now, anti-discrimination laws that seem to violate religious practices are still held on a case by case basis as far as the highest court in the land goes. Colorado has an anti-discrimination law that prevents any business from refusing service on the basis of race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation. By refusing to bake a cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012, Phillips found himself on the wrong end of that statute.
Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, liberal justices, joined the five conservative justices of SCOTUS in the ruling which was authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
<blockquote>“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,” Kennedy wrote, referring to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“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,” Kennedy said.</blockquote>
21 of the 50 states have anti-discrimination laws that specifically protect homosexuals.