Passion for Equality

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First Things - Web Exclusives

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At the close of its term last month, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Masterpiece Cakeshop, one of the handful of same-sex wedding cases that have been percolating in the lower courts for the past few years. In the case, a Colorado cake shop declined to design and bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Designing and baking such a cake, the shop’s owner said, would violate his religious convictions.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that the shop owner’s refusal violated the state’s public accommodation law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The shop owner argues that he doesn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation—he is happy to sell cakes to gays and lesbians—but that requiring him to design and bake a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his constitutional rights, specifically, his free speech rights (by compelling him to express approval for conduct he disapproves) and his free exercise rights (by requiring him to engage in conduct that violates his religious convictions).