Colorado Supreme Court rejects challenge to state’s nondiscrimination law

The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a Denver-area baker who was sanctioned by the state’s Civil Rights Commission after refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple.  By denying the case, the Supreme Court confirmed a Colorado Appeals Court ruling that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips could not refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of religious and free-speech rights.  Discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is outlawed in Colorado.

In 2012, Phillips turned away a gay couple that tried to buy a custom wedding cake, citing his religious beliefs and free speech.  An administrative law judge ruled soon after that offering comparable services to both heterosexual and same-sex couples did not violate the baker’s free speech or prevent him from exercising his religion.  The Civil Rights Commission subsequently ordered him to submit quarterly reports, for two years, proving how he was working to alter his discriminatory practices.  That order has been reaffirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision.

In addition to citing religious freedom, Phillips’s suit alleged that the state’s order violated his free speech rights, arguing that his cakes were protected “artistic expressions.”  He may still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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