Civil Rights Commission Unanimously Decrees Wedding Cake Discrimination is Illegal

Custom wedding cakes

At what point does the right of the businessperson to sell what they want, and the customer’s right to purchase items without being discriminated against, start to clash? This month, many feelings came to a head over a Colorado baker.

The bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, initially refused to bake custom wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Now, though, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has ruled that this does count as discrimination, and baker Jack Phillips cannot refuse to sell custom wedding cakes based on a couple’s orientation.

Last year, a gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, visited Masterpiece Cakeshop, hoping to get a cake for their Colorado reception. They were surprised and embarrassed when the owner refused to make a cake for them, saying that he felt he would be “forced to participate in a same-sex wedding” this way.

He claims he would be okay with making speciality birthday cakes for gay individuals — just not wedding cakes. A Facebook post shared with friends about the event quickly gathered media outrage. Phillips attempted to take the issue to court in order to reaffirm his stance, but the Civil Rights Commission unanimously agreed that he had violated a civil rights law in discriminating against the two.

Though to many the law might seem to prevent Jack Phillips from following his own beliefs, it comes from an important place in historical U.S. legislation. The original Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination by facilities that serve the general public, which includes establishments such as restaurants, hotels, and clothing stores.

Prior to the ruling, it was not unusual to see many businesses only accept white customers, or treat black customers in a different way. Although in a modern day context it might seem strange to tell wedding cake shops what to do, the foundation of the rules regarding everything from water fountains to custom birthday cakes is important. For now, Jack Phillips claims that he will be making no wedding cakes, period, unless his case is reviewed and given an alternate ruling.

Most people, regardless of who they’re marrying, how long they’ve been dating, or where they’re getting married, have an opinion on the ideal unique wedding cakes for their union. What’s yours? Let us know in the comments. To learn more, read this:

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