During oral arguments in Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips’ case, a judge asked opposing counsel a hypothetical:
Suppose a fine art painter advertises to the public that he or she will make oil paintings on commission, and then a patron contacts the artist and requests that the artist paint a commissioned picture that celebrates gay marriages, and the artist refuses saying, “I won’t do that. That’s – I don’t believe that. That would infringe upon my First Amendment rights.” Does that artist violate [the law] in those circumstances?
The ACLU’s attorney responded that if the “painter was operating as a public accommodation open to the general public,” then the artist could not decline an order based on sexual orientation, and “the fact that the service provided is artistic does not change the general rule of it.”
Did you catch that? It doesn’t matter “that the service provided is artistic” – the government can force artists to use their artistic talents to convey a message or celebrate an event that violates their sincere beliefs.
Isn’t this America?
Arguments like this can have major implications for our First Amendment rights.
That’s why we are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to correct this understanding of artistic expression and government’s role in it. The Court will hear Jack’s case during its upcoming term.
In Jack’s case, he was asked to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. As a Christian, he believes that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman. He cannot, in good conscience, use his artistic talents to celebrate an event that contradicts that belief. He offered to sell the couple anything else in his store. But he was still sued.
In its efforts to punish Jack for his viewpoint on marriage, the ACLU has drawn a line in the sand that shouldn’t just concern artists – it should concern us all. You must promote and celebrate the events that the government demands of you, even if that event conflicts with your beliefs.
But consider what the Supreme Court had to say in a previous ruling: “At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence.”
If the government can compel artists to celebrate events or express messages that violate their beliefs, then where does it stop?
The fact is that Jack’s case is not just about same-sex marriage. No matter where we stand on that issue, we should be able to support Jack and his right not to be forced to celebrate through his art an event that conflicts with his conscience.
If you want that same freedom, supporting Jack is a must. It’s not only Jack’s freedom at stake here – it’s your freedom as well. Please consider what you can give to defend Jack and protect religious freedom for you, your children, and your grandchildren.
I Stand With Jack