In Surprise Ruling, High Court Sides with Baker Who Refused to Make Gay Couple’s Wedding Cake

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. But not for the reasons some of Silicon Valley’s leading LGBTQ advocates expected.

Many observers braced for a ruling that would undermine anti-discrimination laws throughout the country. Instead, the court condemned the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hostility to the baker’s Christian faith without touching on the subject of LGBTQ customers’ rights.

In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy notes that while the First Amendment protects religious organizations and people, it does not permit business owners and other actors in the economy to deny equal access to goods and services.

BAYMEC—a multi-county LGBTQ political advocacy group founded in the South Bay—issued a statement saying the nonprofit’s board agrees with Kennedy.

But it’s a small win, BAYMEC Vice President Paul Escobar added.

“While we are disappointed that the court declined the opportunity to fully articulate the rights of LGBTQ Americans, we are pleased with this recognition of our fundamental right to be free from discrimination,” he said. “We must continue to work towards ending anti-LGBTQ discrimination once and for all, and the next step in the effort is for Congress to pass the Equality Act.”

BAYMEC cofounder Wiggsy Siversten cautioned that even though the laws remain intact, people who “fail to read beyond the headlines” may still use the occasion to discriminate.

“Those actions remain wrong, unlawful and hurtful,” she said.

According to the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley, 97 percent of queer and transgender Americans say they’ve been harassment on the basis of their sexuality or gender expression. More than 40 percent say they’ve been targeted by homophobic or transphobic violence at work, the group added.

But the Supreme Court case has prompted an outpouring of support for queer and trans people, Rainbow Chamber officials said.

“We … feel energized by this decision and now more than ever believe it is essential to stand with responsible business owners who respect the dignity and rights of their customers,” the chamber wrote in a news release Monday.

To protect local queer and trans people, the Rainbow Chamber launched a program called “Take the Cake Stand,” which promotes local LGBTQ-friendly businesses.

The chamber will collect the names of businesses that want to participate and then promote them online at www.rainbowchamber.org.

“Just because the Supreme Court has affirmed the legality of anti-discrimination laws, does not mean our fight is over,” the group stated. “No LGBTQ American should ever be denied service because of their sexual orientation, and we must all stand together to ensure that this never happens again.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the News Editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

11 Comments

  1. > Instead, the court condemned the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s hostility to the baker’s Christian faith . . .

    > In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy notes that while the First Amendment protects religious organizations and people, it does not permit business owners and other actors in the economy to deny equal access to goods and services.

    So, how does the concept of “equal access to goods and services” apply to Google, Twitter, and Facebook respecting their sneaky, deceitful covert culture war against Libertarians, Conservatives, Republicans, “traditional” Democrats, and the straight white Christian male working class?

    • If the culture war you speak of is in their product/services… well I can’t speak to that. What I can speak to is my anecdotal experience with conservative employees in the giant tech firms I worked in. I was mgmt, hiring both software engineers and supervisors. For important positions searches were made to get the ideal USA candidates. I consider it unprofessional to surface one’s politics at work, and fortunately most can be brought to see that. The exceptions can get problematic in a flash.

      Mostly folks got along fine w/r/t diversity, politics, etc. I never became aware of a conservative in my organizations being disadvantaged, other than when they brought it upon themself. I offer a personal example of that, not something I heard from HR: I brought one supervisor in from the east coast, easily the most qualified candidate, so I had high expectations, but he turned out to be unable to treat a black woman under him with decency and respect, despite my coaching. He was going to be sidelined, but wisely preserved his rep by resigning and moving back east.

      Point? Nothing much, just one engineering manager’s experience, over the decades. But in my unhumble opinion there seems to be more conservative victim-ology in the valley these days. It might be related to this president who constantly frames himself as a victim. In any case, nobody wants to hire victims, we want exactly the opposite – employees who get major sh*t done and work well with the diversity in this valley.

      If you were speaking of products and services, I know little, and respectfully request you present your case. You seem to split your comments between rationality and trolling, so just to be clear, I’d prefer to hear from your rational side *wink*

      • > but he turned out to be unable to treat a black woman under him with decency and respect, despite my coaching.

        I wasn’t there, so I don’t know what happened.

        But my observation is that Silicon Valley politics is a stew pot of socially isolated tech geeks who think they are paid a lot because they are just lucky foragers or millennials who think that everything should be fair because … like … you know … IT SHOULD BE FAIR!

        Silicon Valley progressive politics seems to have an ON/OFF switch which flips itself on whenever a progressive sees a black person. And the “black person switch” makes progressives want to PROVE they are not racist by compelling them to transmit “virtue signals”.

        Silicon valley political creatures are predisposed to think that white people from traditionally “non-progressive” territories are knuckle dragging racist clods ready to lynch any black person without any provocation, and the only thing preventing white on black race war is a heroic band of progressives virtue signaling in all directions on all channels around the clock and in any situation.

        In other words, “progressives” are inclined to PRE-JUDGE the motives and behaviors of white people and assign the worst possible assessment.

  2. It wasn’t a surprise-it was expected by the educated. Its a very narrow ruling that ONLY applies to the bigoted baker and how he was treated by the idiots on the CO commission.

    • > it was expected by the educated.

      Really?!

      So, what are you saying? That you DIDN’T expect it?

  3. An outburst of emotions directed at any future, professional, ice sculptor who dares refuse to chisel-out a centerpiece of two dude smooching. And they’ll keep on fighting till the bottomless pit freezes over.

  4. Folks, would people please stop twisting the facts to fit the narrative of their own victim hood?!

    The baker did not refuse to serve the couple because they were gay. He just refused, based on his personal religious beliefs, to make a cake for a same sex wedding, not a gay couple. From the court case record, here is what the baker told them: ““I’ll make your birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies, I just don’t make cakes for same sex weddings.” Fine. Now, the law then holds that Mr. Ginsburg can make Dieter and Klaus a birthday cake (on April 20th?) but Mr. Ginsburg doesn’t have to put a swastika on it if he doesn’t want to; Simple.

    Here’s what the same-sex couple should have done. Ordered a regular wedding size/style cake. Ordered two of those hetero-couple topper decorations, then in front of the baker, broken the female bride off, put the two guys on top of the cake, thanked the baker, and walked out. (I would have asked for rainbow frosting too, but that’s just me).

    The baker went out of business because of the controversy. He’s ruined. What more do people want, to not have their cake and eat it too? A question for the baker: “How many women were there at the Last Supper?”. Would you have refused, on religious grounds, to cater that event because it was a same-sex dinner party? (Just asking. I’m straight, I’m just a smart-ass, it’s just what I believe in.).

    • > The baker did not refuse to serve the couple because they were gay. He just refused, based on his personal religious beliefs, to make a cake for a same sex wedding, not a gay couple.

      And excellent and astute observation, JSB.

      There is a general principle, here: In a civilized society based on rationality, facts matter. In a tribal society, tribalism matters.

      • Sadly, since Nov 2016, tribalism rules in this nation. We can turn it around, but we need a lot more conservatives who stick to conservative principles, and rationality, rather than believing in the “facts” Trump pulls out of his behind.

  5. > In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy notes that while the First Amendment protects religious organizations and people, it does not permit business owners and other actors in the economy to deny equal access to goods and services.

    Well, shouldn’t people wearing MAGA hats have “equal access to goods and services”?

    Whisky is “goods”, right?

    And serving whisky in a bar is a “service”, right?

    https://nypost.com/2018/04/25/judge-bars-are-allowed-to-throw-out-trump-supporters/

    “Judge: bars are allowed to throw out Trump supporters”

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