Arizona Lawmakers Weigh In On Case Pitting Gay Rights, Religious Rights

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, speaks at the Capitol where scores of lawmakers filed a brief backing his Supreme Court case. He says Colorado’s civil rights laws that require him to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his religiously held principles. (Photo by Adrienne St. Clair/Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Three Arizona lawmakers were among the scores of House and Senate members who filed a court brief Thursday defending the Colorado cake shop owner who was sued for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

 The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who said making a wedding cake for two men contradicted his religious beliefs. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said that violated the state’s law against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and state courts have agreed.

The “friend of the court” brief signed by House and Senate members expresses solidarity with Phillips, who said in his appeal to the Supreme Court that the Colorado’s public accommodation law violates his “sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.”

Among those signing the brief were Arizona Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Glendale, Paul Gosar of Prescott and Andy Biggs of Gilbert. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich also joined a brief filed by 20 states in support of Phillips.

“The Colorado Court of Appeals failed to apply the legally accepted principles guaranteed in the First Amendment to Mr. Phillips’ case,” Franks said in a statement about the brief. “As the case is reviewed by the Supreme Court, my colleagues and I want to ensure that the Supreme Court is aware that the First Amendment affords this Colorado baker inalienable rights and protections.”

But a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona disagreed, saying that while Phillips is free to his religious beliefs and free to oppose same-sex couples, “what he’s not free to do is deny a business service that he provides to everyone else solely to one category of people.” The ACLU of Colorado is representing the same-sex couple in the case.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop case is just one of several around the country that deal with the conflict between traditional religious beliefs and newfound rights for same-sex couples to marry in the United States.

One of those cases is in Arizona, where the owners of Brush and Nib Studio, which specializes in hand-lettering and calligraphy, sued the city of Phoenix for its ordinance that required the business to provide products for same-sex marriages.


-Cronkite News video by Fraser Allan Best

That studio is being represented by Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which is also representing Phillips and other business owners in similar cases.

Alliance attorney Kristen Waggoner, who is lead counsel in the Masterpiece Cakeshop appeal to the Supreme Court, said the case “transcends the marriage issue, it transcends Colorado.”

“It applies to all Americans … everyone’s right to be able to express ideas and to create messages and to celebrate religious ceremonies that are consistent with their convictions, including people in Arizona,” she said at a news conference at the Capitol where lawmakers unveiled their friend of the court brief.

Phillips said after the event that his case “goes right to the heart of what Americans cherish.”

The case began in July 2012, when Charlie Craig and David Mullins were making plans for their upcoming wedding in Massachusetts – same-sex marriage was not legal in Colorado at that time. The two men came to Phillips’ Lakewood, Colorado, shop and asked for a cake for a post-wedding party they planned in Colorado.

Phillips refused, citing his religious beliefs, but offered to sell them any other baked goods in the store, according to court documents.

The men left the store, but later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division, claiming that Phillips’ refusal violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The civil rights commission agreed, a decision that was upheld by the Colorado Court of Appeals.

“I opened the cake shop so I could use the artistic talents and gifts that God has given me in order to combine those with my love of baking,” Phillips said Thursday. “The state of Colorado determined that I am not going to be able to live by my faith and my conscience.”

But Arizona ACLU communications director Steve Kilar disagreed.

“The fact of the matter is, this doesn’t have anything to do with what he believes or what he has to say,” he said. “He is free to continue to have his religious beliefs, he is free to continue to speak out against same-sex couples, but what he’s not free to do is deny a business service that he provides to everyone else solely to one category of people.”


-Cronkite News video by Fraser Allan Best

Kilar is concerned that Phillips’ appeal in the Supreme Court “has the possibility to bring down the longstanding history we have of civil rights protections, that people can go into commercial businesses and have the expectation that they will be treated with dignity and respect.”

He said cases like Masterpiece and Brush and Nib make “essentially the same arguments.”

“This isn’t just about cakes and it’s not just about gay people,” Kilar said, but about the fundamental rights of all Americans.

That was one argument where he and Waggoner agreed.

Those fundamental rights are at the heart of Franks’ support, the congressman said.

“This becomes a scary world when the state is authorized to regulate free expression,” his statement said.

The Supreme Court, which reconvenes in October, has not yet set a date for arguments in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.

13 Comments on "Arizona Lawmakers Weigh In On Case Pitting Gay Rights, Religious Rights"

  1. The Oracle of Tucson | September 10, 2017 at 1:37 am |

    Once upon a time in the days of old in a land far far away called America, simple folks used to say, “you don’t have to condone and you don’t have to condemn”, sadly that’s no longer a two way street, especially for in your face militant gay people.
    If Mr. religious won’t bake a same sex themed wedding cake and Mr.& Mr. same sex couple bought a wedding cake elsewhere who really fricking cares?
    Businesses used to have a sign that read “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” but of course today the world is full of litigants who all too often view themselves as “special” and therefore seem to think they alone are entitled to be above the rules imposed for everyone else.
    Currently under federal anti-discrimination laws, businesses can refuse service to any person for any reason, unless the business is discriminating against a protected class. At the national level, protected classes include: Race or color but not sexual orientation.
    Once upon a time gay people just wanted to come out of the closet and be accepted as “equal”.
    Sadly being equal is currently eclipsed by being in your face to accept and embrace someone else’s values over your own.
    My grandmother used to say “elation leads to expectation”, perhaps she was way ahead of her time.

    The Oracle

  2. Richard Hernandez | September 10, 2017 at 7:40 am |

    I am gay. Sorry Oracle and anyone else. This is similar to it ok to have slaves as long as the white folks say so.

    If your a business open to ” the public” then anyone in public can purchase any of your goods irregardless of who they choose to LOVE.

    We don’t exclude Christian’s , Catholics, Jews, Mormons , ete.. from purchasing I. This case a wedding cake. We need to force the sick right majority conservatives who think they have right to impose there beliefs on this non believers.

    I believe for example if you choose a certain religious practice that is great within that practice. You may NOT tell another practice was is appropriate or not.

    So it is with Lgbtq. We are here we are 20% of population. We have responses , power, votes, funds and the will to live freely without any hate group telling us who , how. Where or when we can eat , sleep LOVE and share our faith that all men/women/HUMAN BEINGS are the same in God’s eyes.

    Judge and ye shall be Judges. I suggest that this bakery become private owned business requires purchase into a club in order to purchase goods. Then if you choose to be a member of the club must live by club demands.

    So long as it is public then the public lgbtq or not MUST have full and absolute access just like non lgbtq.

    Love conquer hate. Be kind to one another. Tolerance. God don’t make junk. Have done to you as you have done to others. I will conclude that my God is same as yours. On Judgement day it is said forst will be last and the last will be first.

    To all of you my lgbtq “family” do be afraid of these bullies. Our history if filled with haters and such in the name of God. We will prevail wether it be now or in the future.

    As to idea of how it use to be, really it was wrong then and it wrong now. Don’t give me that crap about how it use to be. Hell we were all young once, now that we are old we still have same rights as the young. Be strong my ” family” these haters will be brought to Judgement by he who knows what is right.

    • If you’re only 20% of the population, what gives you the right to tell the other 80% what is right and wrong? I don’t care if you’re gay, just quit being so “in your face” with it. By the way, the baker had no problem BAKING the cake, it was the decorating it. I applaud him for that.

    • Jerome R Petruk | September 10, 2017 at 12:44 pm |

      Richard, I am hoping that you have a sense of humor. So here goes… “Richard, you ignorant slut”. Think about what you say. Should a white supremacist couple go to a black or Jewish baker, should said baker be required to support the racist message thru their service and art? For goodness sake, I hope you see such a requirement is wrong. You simply hate as a driver for refusal of service. You are WRONG. Hate is not the driver. Faith in that person’s belief IS. I wish a long and healthy life for all persons because my Christian faith call for me to love my neighbor. I do so happily. But if that neighbor should murder another neighbor, I will condemn the act. It was wrong. But I will continue to pray for the murderer. Can you see the logic? I hope so. You don’t seem to be malicious in your posts. What say you?

      • The Oracle of Tucson | September 10, 2017 at 1:35 pm |

        He won’t be back, he normally prances about, defecates all over the post and disappears for the week.

        The Oracle

  3. Hernandez – but the point is ‘this man’ doesn’t want to make the cake. They can buy anything else in the store… they can buy that cake in many many locations, I’m sure made with great skill and artistic expertise – this guy does not want to make the cake – but the Gays want to FORCE HIM OR ELSE CLOSE HIM? because they DEMAND he make it, knowing he does not want to make the cake. How liberal of them. They know exactly the reason why as you do as well – so what’s the point – YOU WILL DO IT seems to be the think to me. What about abortion – what if a doctor does not want to? what about a supplier of products used in surgical procedures – force them to participate in the abortion because that person wants one and it’s legal? It’ can be obtained legally, willingly, with pride and choice of the person doing the procedure in many places, why force this one person. Its not slavery… or is it? Guess it depends on who the slave master is.. and what they think is right? – the shoe fits on both feet Mr or Miss Hernandez. Which brings to mind, what is the prefix identifier for Gay.

  4. BTW Hernandez ; I would think that many look at this case and come away with a very bad taste in their mouth – when the ‘equal right impliers call all others haters, etc. it does not build a bridge – in fact I’d say it raises the wall even higher than you’re saying its been for decades. You can say so what we have vote and power.. because you own a race car do you always drive 200 mph ? It does appear to be the mentality of multi-letter identity.

  5. I suggest the parties square off in a single shot duel to defend their pride and principles.

  6. Jerome R Petruk | September 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm |

    Does a baker have to make a cake for a Trump or Clinton rally? How about a Jewish baker making a cake for a Hezbollah rally? Turn this on it’s head. If a leftist is killed by a cop, and said Cop asks a baker to make a cake for a rally in the Cop’s behalf… And said baker is the brother of the deceased…should the baker be required to to bake a cake for the person who shot his brother? “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” should still be allowed as a statement of individual rights.

  7. Jerome, there was a place that REFUSED to make a cake for a Trump celebration and nothing was said of it and it was a very back page news item. They claim it was their ‘right’ to refuse. Same thing with this baker. BTW what does the ‘q’ stand for?

  8. You would think, these people would be reluctant to have their cake baked by someone who disapproves of their lifestyle. Guess they were just looking for a pay day, thanks to a left-wing judge.

  9. As in many, many other cases
    just additional proof that there is
    nothing more intolerant than a
    tolerant liberal.

    In not a SINGLE one of any of these
    cases has the service provider told the
    gay person they couldn’t be gay- but in ALL
    these cases the gay person has declared that the
    Christian is NOT allowed to practice their faith.

    The most blatant cases have the refusing vendor
    finding an acceptable alternative for the gay-so
    no harm in any way. Just proof of how vindictive
    the gay lobby is- sorry Richard- it’s just the facts.

    And to be very precise, I am NOT saying ALL or even
    most gays are vindictive- but the leadership.

    The problem, remarkably similar to what moderate
    Muslims face; is that if they don’t tow the “party
    line,” they are hounded or even killed in the case
    of Muslims.
    It certainly has been evident with the gays I know.
    They faced tremendous pressure to support gay marriage
    from other gays, irrespective of their own religious
    beliefs.

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