Jack Phillips has worked in the cake industry for 40 years. And he always strives to live his life and run his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in a way that glorifies God.
That’s why, when a couple walked into his store in 2012 asking Jack to design a custom cake for their same-sex wedding, he had to decline. Jack serves all people, but he cannot celebrate every event. He believes what the Bible teaches about marriage – that it is the union of one man and one woman. And he should never be forced to violate that belief by using his artistic talents to celebrate an event contrary to that.
But that’s not a freedom the State of Colorado was interested in upholding. The couple filed discrimination complaints with the state, and the state started administrative proceedings against Jack for “discrimination.” Jack’s case has been working its way through the court system for almost five years. The U.S. Supreme Court heard his case in December 2017.
Here are six things you might not know about Jack and his case:
1. Jack does not discriminate.
Jack has never discriminated against anyone, and he certainly didn’t refuse to serve the couple that filed a discrimination complaint against him. When they walked into his shop, he offered to sell them cookies, brownies, or anything pre-made from his shelves. But that was not enough. The government wants to force him to use his artistic talents to celebrate events that violate his faith.
2. Jack has turned down other cakes in the past.
There are several types of cakes that Jack will not make. For example, he won’t make cakes with alcohol in them. He won’t do Halloween cakes or lewd cakes for something like a bachelor party. In the past, he has even turned down a cake celebrating a divorce. A cake artist deciding which messages he will promote has nothing to do with the concerns behind public accommodation laws.
3. Jack has faced anti-religious bigotry as well as threats and intimidation simply because he declined to promote an event.
When Jack was first sued, he received an avalanche of hateful calls and letters. At one point, a caller made a death threat against him and his family, telling Jack that he was going to show up at their cake shop. Fearing the worst, Jack had to call the police. No one should have their peace of mind taken away from them simply because they live consistently with their beliefs.
4. Jack owns a private family business, and he doesn’t give up his rights when he sells his art.
When Jack puts the “Open” sign on his business, he does not have to abandon his constitutional rights. Just like any other American, the First Amendment protects Jack’s freedom to run his family business consistently with his faith and to decline to promote messages that violate his beliefs. That’s a principle we should all be able to get behind.
5. Jack’s shop has been called an “art gallery of cakes.”
Not only did a local reporter call Jack’s cakeshop “an art gallery of cakes,” but Jack’s cake designs were also featured on advertisements for Season 2 of TLC’s Cake Boss. When Jack receives a custom order, he pours his artistic ideas and talents into making something special for his clients. He should not have to use his creative expression to promote something that conflicts with his deeply held convictions.
6. Wedding cakes made up about 40 percent of Jack’s business.
Jack loves creating special, custom designs for weddings. Because of the state’s order requiring him to create anything for same-sex couples that he creates for opposite sex couples, Jack is no longer able to create wedding cakes. If Jack has to step out of the wedding industry permanently, his business will take a huge hit. Jack shouldn’t be barred from working in an industry he loves simply because the tenets of his faith define marriage differently than the Colorado government.
We asked the Supreme Court to affirm that Jack – and all Americans – have the right to peacefully live and work according to their beliefs without fear of government punishment.
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