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Cake wars: Bakeries serve up tension between LGBT rights, religious objections

Azuvar Bakery in Denver, Colo.
Azuvar Bakery in Denver, Colo.

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Le Bakery Sensual’s lawyer, Jack Robinson, however, said the First Amendment’s free speech guarantees protect the bakers from being forced to communicate a message.

“Mr. Jack’s actions had nothing to do with religion or being Christian, but everything to do with forcing someone else to publish his hateful speech that was intended to discriminate against a protected class of individuals,” said Robinson.

The statement referenced Colorado’s anti-discrimination law that protects people against bias in employment, housing and public accommodations. Colorado is one of 21 states whose law expressly includes gays and lesbians.

Marjorie Silva, the owner of Azucar Bakery, welcomed the decision in her favor. “I’m excited and happy that we were not just morally right, but legally right.”

ELSEWHERE

Before Indiana legislators passed a religious objections law, triggering a national uproar that spilled into several other state Capitols, a growing rift had been apparent between gay rights advocates and religious groups. Cases similar to Colorado’s Cake Wars have popped up across the nation.

Last week, a former television evangelist in Arizona evangelist posted an online video attacking a Florida bakery when it refused to provide a cake decorated with the words “‘We do not support gay marriage.”

A florist in Washington state was found guilt of refusing to provide services for a same-sex wedding in 2013. Barronelle Stutzman is fighting the case. She’s been fined $1,000, but a crowdfunding campaign has netted more than $85,000.

Her supporters have compared her benefit page to an Indiana pizza shop that raised more than $800,000 after closing when a co-owner expressed support for the state’s religious objections law, which has since been revised to address concerns that it would allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.

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The New Mexico Supreme Court two years ago ruled against a photographer who wouldn’t take pictures of a gay couple’s 2006 commitment ceremony, saying the state’s discrimination law was violated.

And in Oregon, two bakers — Sweet Cakes by Melissa and Fleur Cakes — face fines after an administrative law judge ruled they discriminated against a gay couple in 2013 by refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

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