Jack Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993 and has joyfully served the community of Lakewood, Colorado for the last 23 years. In his years of business, Jack has been a part of major milestone events for many in the community. He’s watched families grow from young couples requesting wedding cakes to parents requesting graduation cakes for their children.
Masterpiece Cakeshop is also a family business. Among his other employees, one of Jack’s sisters decorates cakes at the bakery, another sister volunteers to keep the shop clean, and his elderly mother takes care of accounting needs a few hours each week.
As a Christian, Jack knows that God can work as He chooses, including using small bakeries like Masterpiece Cakeshop to do His work. “[God] has chosen this bakery to do a lot of different things that we had never planned and that we would never want to stop,” he said. Jack’s faith motivates how he operates his business, but he would one day find out that the State of Colorado could force him to strip every ounce of his faith out of his business.
In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s bakery requesting a wedding cake for their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting only a few seconds, Jack declined the request, saying he could not create cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but, because of his faith, he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony.
Infuriated, the two men stormed out of the store. Shortly after, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to make a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage. Instead of responding in anger, Jack saw the calls as an invitation to prayer: “[The phone calls] give me an opportunity to pray for people I wouldn’t know.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and ADF allied attorneys came to Jack’s defense when the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. Even after explaining to the commission that it wasn’t the people Jack objected to, it was the message the cake would send about marriage, an administrative law judge ruled against Jack in December 2013, saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment. The commission also ordered Jack and his staff to create cakes for same-sex wedding celebrations, go through a “re-education” program, implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years to show that Jack has completely eliminated his religious beliefs form his business.
In July 2016, ADF attorneys and allied attorneys petitioned the United States Supreme Court to take up Jack’s case. We are awaiting its decision whether or not to hear the appeal.
Through all of this, Jack continues to trust in God’s plan for his life and for the future of Masterpiece Cakeshop. “I can trust Him and rely that God is doing what he’s going to do. And if He’s chosen us to be a part of that, that’s quite an honor.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is here to protect the right of creative professionals to use their God-given talents in ways that are consistent with their beliefs.