News & Politics

Supreme Court Sides With Anti-Gay Baker — But It Wasn't All Good News for Bigots

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented.

Photo Credit: CBS This Morning

The U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that one cake baker can refuse to sell wedding cakes to gay people and same-sex couples. The 7-2 ruling is on a Colorado Christian baker who said his religion prohibits him from "celebrating" or "participating" in a same-sex wedding, which he believes includes baking a wedding cake.

The ruling is being characterized as narrow, and applicable to only one baker, and not to be applied broadly.

"This is a victory for the baker," NBC News' Pete Williams reports, "but what the Supreme Court says here is because of the peculiarities of his specific case, he wins but the court doesn't answer the larger questions here."

The Court did not rule on the larger issue, but opened the door for more cases. It did state that "tolerance" for people of faith must be balanced with the rights of gay people in the marketplace.

Masterpiece Cake Shop owner Jack Phillips was represented by an anti-gay hate group, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which several years ago focused on attracting a number of high-profile anti-gay bakers, florists, and other wedding industry owners.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented.

UPDATE: 10:46 AM EDT –

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the decision so far: This is a ruling against the commission that effectively prosecuted Phillips. The Supreme Court suggests it acted with animus, and with "hostility," and went too far. It does not say that he was right to reject the same-sex couple.

"The Commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion. Phillips was entitled to a neutral decisionmaker who would give full and fair consideration to his religious objection as he sought to assert it in all of the circumstances in which this case was presented, considered, and decided. In this case the adjudication concerned a context that may well be different going forward in the respects noted above. However later cases raising these or similar concerns are resolved in the future, for these reasons the rulings of the Commission and of the state court that enforced the Commission’s order must be invalidated.

"The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be re-solved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market."

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