Today in Craig v. Masterpiece Cake Shop, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed a decision fining a Christian baker for refusing to provide cakes for same-sex weddings. The baker did not refuse to provide other goods to homosexual customers, but claimed that forcing him to make cakes for gay weddings violated his rights of free speech and freedom of religion.
The decision was as expected. There is currently a great deal of hostility within courts, and particularly Colorado courts, against claims of free speech and religion when government regulation of gay rights is involved. Further, freedom of religion rights had already been sufficiently eroded nationally that the only possible defense was based on free speech.
The Court did note that in some circumstances, the making of cakes could be considered speech and therefore protected. The Court did not specify the nature of this protection, but if a baker or other businessperson typically insists on placing his own messages in his or her products, then his or her rights would more likely be protected.
Sam Ventola has a wide variety of experience in litigation, legal education, and mediation. He has been an attorney on both sides in business litigation, employment disputes, probate litigation, and personal injury cases. In addition to being an attorney, he has been a mediator, hearing officer, labor relations professor, and lecturer on litigation, employment and First Amendment issues. He has also achieved the rating of AV Preeminent® by Martindale Hubbell.