Saturday, December 16, 2017

Why the #BaketheCake case is important

The freedoms at stake in the gay cake case - CapX - Marian L. Tupy:

December 15, 2017 - "On December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States heard the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It’s a case that raises important questions about freedom of speech and of association that even the most fervent supporters of equality for gay people ought to take to heart.

"In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, a same-sex couple, visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver to order a custom wedding cake to celebrate their nuptials. Jack Phillips, the shop’s owner and a practising Christian, was happy to sell the couple any of the goods in the store, but he refused to create a bespoke cake for a gay wedding, arguing that it would contravene his religious beliefs.

"Craig and Mullins bought their wedding cake from a different bakery and went ahead with their happy event. The couple also filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission... A lower court ruling decided in favour of the plaintiffs. The bakery was ordered to provide cakes for same-sex marriages and to ... provide quarterly reports for the next two years regarding steps it has taken to come into compliance....

"The Cato Institute, where I work, has been at the forefront of the fight for gay equality, submitting amici curiae briefs in favour of the gay community in such ground-breaking cases as Lawrence v Texas, which decriminalised sodomy in the United States in 2003, and Obergefell v Hodges, which legalised gay marriage throughout the country in 2015. In Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, we have taken Phillips’s side....

"Just as we would support a gay baker’s right to decline to convey a homophobic message, we support this Christian baker’s right to decline to celebrate a same-sex wedding. That is because Masterpiece isn’t really about religious liberty ... but about freedom of speech....

"Although making cakes may not initially appear to be speech to some, ... the Supreme Court has long recognised that the First Amendment protects artistic as well as verbal expression, and that protection should likewise extend to this sort of baking....

"The law says that private discrimination is fine so long as it does not involve a business, which ought to be open to everyone. That’s a perfectly fine legal distinction, but not a logical or moral one. Consider... Suppose that you operate a private dining club ... and choose from a list of paying gourmands in accordance with your preference for, exempli gratia, straight people.... Were you to incorporate, you would be guilty of discrimination. Without it, you are free to do as you please.

"So, private discrimination is not cut and dried. As one of the pioneers of gay marriage, the British-born writer Andrew Sullivan, noted, advocates of gay equality ought to acquire some perspective. 'I think it was a prudential mistake to sue the baker,” he wrote. 'Live and let live would have been a far better response.' That’s where Cato stands as well."

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