Colorado’s public accommodations law will be under scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year regarding Masterpiece Cake Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a lawsuit brought forth in 2012 by an engaged same-sex couple, Charlie Craig and Davis Mullins. The couple was denied service at a Denver bakery when a baker, Jack Phillips, refused to make them a custom wedding cake because of his Christian beliefs. The case was heard by the Colorado Supreme Court and ruled that baking a cake was an expected business function and not an exercise of free speech or exercise of religion under the First Amendment.
Currently the case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court and will be heard in its 2017 term. An amicus brief in support of the appellant by conservative representatives is making the rounds to U.S. senators and representatives; unsurprisingly Utah Senator Mike Lee signed the brief Thursday.
Last month, Sen. Lee joined others in Congress asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the Washington state case of Ingersoll v. Arlene’s Flowers, in which a gay couple was refused service on the basis of free speech and religious beliefs.
The outcome of the Colorado case and the fate of its public accommodations law will determine if the city of Cheyenne, Wyo., will propose an LGBT ordinance, still under review by the city attorney’s office, which would make it illegal to fire employees or refuse to provide housing or other services on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“If the court rules in favor of the Colorado baker,” Cheyenne Councilman Richard Johnson told Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “then all nondiscrimination ordinances across the country could be invalid or need to be rewritten, and that worried council members who were on the fence to begin with.”
Mayor Marian Orr added, “With the Supreme Court looking at this issue, now is not the time to act.”
The amicus brief was written by Gene Schaerr, the attorney hired to represent Utah in its appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby’s ruling striking laws and the constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage in the state.