Do you think it’s possible to support same-sex marriage and Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips?
For those of you who don’t know, Jack is the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. He is awaiting a decision in his case—Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission—at the United States Supreme Court. Jack was sued for declining to design a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding.
As you can imagine, there are strong opinions on both sides of this case. But many people, including members of the LGBT community, have come out in support of Jack.
How is that even possible?
It’s quite simple really. It’s the same reason I can be okay with fundraising group Moceanic declining me a service because it will only train writers who support their liberal ideology. Or the same reason someone can support Hustle’s decision to refuse to work with clients that promote messages contrary to its political views.
In a nutshell, it comes down to freedom.
Let’s take a deeper look at the Hustle situation for a minute. Hustle is a tech startup that created a tool that allows political campaigns and non-profits to easily text their contacts and drive them to take action. The tool was a big player in the grassroots success of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
As a recent article on TechCrunch.com puts it: “Working with Bernie aligned with the team’s political sentiments, but they were quickly faced with whether they wanted to fuel both sides of the aisle — which would mean delivering fringe conservative campaign messages they couldn’t stomach.”
Here we have a company whose founders have very specific political opinions. They want to run their business consistently with their views and beliefs. In order to do that, they decline to promote messages (and candidates) with which they fundamentally disagree.
Let’s compare this situation to that of Jack Phillips.
Jack is a cake artist who serves everyone who walks into his shop. What he doesn’t do is design custom cakes that celebrate events or promotes messages that violate his Christian faith.
Jack has run his business this way for more than 20 years. He has declined cakes that celebrate divorce and Halloween, contain anti-American and adult themes, and denigrate people in any way. And when two men asked Jack to design a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding, he politely declined.
Sounds pretty similar, doesn’t it?
So why is Hustle in the clear for its decision while Jack is in court fighting for his freedom?
I think the reason is that we, as a society, have forgotten what it looks like for people to disagree peacefully without someone taking it personally.
The founders of Hustle may disagree with conservative opinions, but does that mean they abhor Republicans as a rule? I don’t think so.
Jack may decline to design custom cakes for same-sex weddings, but that doesn’t make him hateful. In fact, he offered to sell the same-sex couple anything else in his shop or design a custom cake for a different event.
The beauty of living in a free country like America is that people of good will have different opinions about many different things. The enduring promise of the First Amendment is that we all have the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with our deeply held beliefs.
But without tolerance and respect for these good-faith differences of opinions, we will cease to coexist peacefully with each other.
That’s what we’re seeing in Jack’s situation. He and his family have faced death threats, harassment, and all kinds of mistreatment, all because he declined to design a custom wedding cake!
Is that the kind of America you want to live in?
A win for Jack in this case would truly be a win for every American who values freedom. And that’s why anyone can support justice for Jack no matter what they believe about same-sex marriage.