Monday’s Supreme Court ruling drew reactions from every corner of the country, including South Florida.
The case involved David Mullins and Charlie Craig who sued Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2012 because he refused to bake a wedding cake for them.
Nina Totenberg, NPR’s Supreme Court correspondent wrote, “Colorado, like most states, has a state anti-discrimination law for businesses that are open to the public. Colorado bars discrimination based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. So Mullins and Craig filed a complaint with the state commission on civil rights, which ruled in their favor, as did the state supreme court.”
But SCOTUS, wrote Totenberg on Twitter, didn’t make a ruling that impacts non-discrimination laws already in place. The court’s ruling only impacts this particular baker’s case. “SCOTUS rules in favor of wedding cake baker on the narrowest of grounds, leaving unresolved the constitutional clash between gays and merchants who decline to sell them products or services.”
In writing for the majority of the court in its 7-2 ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy stated that, “The laws and the Constitution can, and in some instances must, protect gay persons and gay couples in the exercise of their civil rights, but religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
Longtime local LGBT rights activist Michael Rajner weighed in on the issue.
“Right now the scope is very limited to this one case, and it doesn’t necessarily set a precedent,” he said. “But there is always a concern under the Trump administration, especially since he’s setting a record on the number of judges he’s been appointing to the federal bench.”
Meanwhile Scott Herman, president of the Dolphin Democrats, said he was “extremely disappointed” with the ruling.
He said the ruling could serve as a precedent to erode LGBT rights on other issues and could embolden others to try and claim the same right to refuse service that Phillips claimed. According to the New York Times, Phillips said, “It’s more than just a cake. It’s a piece of art in so many ways.”
Herman said anyone in any restaurant in America could say the same.
“You speak to any chef and it’s an art. And then you have to disprove it’s not an art, and cooking is, for all intents and purposes, an art.” He added that impact of the case could take a long time to undo. “And that is extremely dangerous when you consider how long ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was in place.”
Herman also said this ruling opens the doors to Christian couples being discriminated against by bakers and other business owners who might not want to serve Christians. “You have a standing for it now.”
Vincent Foster, Miami Log Cabin Republicans president, said he’s excited over the ruling and accused liberal LGBT groups and individuals of being “rebel[s] without a cause.” Foster said the LGBT community needs to focus on the important issues facing it, such as housing and workplace discrimination.
“Why are we forcing these issues? I’m a devout atheist and a proud gay man and I would never go to a Christian bakery for my wedding cake that does not support gay marriage. Why anyone would want to have a wedding cake made for them by someone who doesn’t support their marriage? Let’s work on the real civil rights issues.”
He stated that he thinks a lawsuit against a mom and pop bakery like this hurts the LGBT community by giving it unwanted attention and a negative reputation. He compared it to gay men who wear assless chaps at pride events.
He also said he doesn’t think this is a case of true discrimination because the baker only refused to make the gay couple a cake but did not refuse to sell them any of his other items.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote, “The fact that Phillips might sell other cakes and cookies to gay and lesbian customers was irrelevant to the issue Craig and Mullins’ case presented. What matters is that Phillips would not provide a good or service to a same-sex couple that he would provide to a heterosexual couple. In contrast, the other bakeries’ sale of other goods to Christian customers was relevant: It shows that there were no goods the bakeries would sell to a non-Christian customer that they would refuse to sell to a Christian customer.”