DENVER — A gay couple is pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a wedding cake to honor their ceremony and alleging that the owners have a history of turning away same-sex couples.
The case highlights a growing tension between gay rights advocates and supporters of religious freedom as more states move to legalize same-sex marriage and civil unions. Nationwide, 12 states now allow gay marriage.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig filed the discrimination complaint against Jack Phillips after visiting his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., last year. The couple says Phillips told them he wouldn’t make a cake for them when he found out it was to celebrate their wedding in Colorado after they got married in Massachusetts.
Phillips has said making a wedding cake for gay couples would violate his Christian religious beliefs, according to the complaint.
The Colorado Attorney General’s office filed a formal complaint last week after the American Civil Liberties Union initiated the process last year.
“We are all entitled to our religious beliefs and we fight for that,” said Mark Silverstein, the legal director of the ACLU in Colorado. “But someone’s personal religious beliefs don’t justify breaking the law by discriminating against others in the public sphere.”
The attorney for Phillips said she sees it differently.
“At its heart, this is a case about conscience,” said Nicolle Martin. “I just don’t think that we should heighten one person’s beliefs over and above another person’s beliefs,” she added.
Mullins said he vented his frustration on Facebook and was surprised at how “the story ended up catching fire.”
The complaint seeks to force the bakery to “cease and desist” the practice of refusing wedding cakes for gay couples, and to tell the public that their business is open to everyone.
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