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Generational Wins: Defending the Right to Live and Work According to Your Beliefs

March 24, 2021

A generational win is a significant victory that changes the law and culture of the nation for a generation. Deliberate action is taken following that victory in order to ensure that it endures for generations to come.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that will outline how some key courtroom victories helped protect freedom in five critical areas. See other posts on Religious Freedom, Free Speech, and Parental Rights.

Download a PDF version of this post here.

Marriage and Family

WHO: Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop

WHAT: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleged that Jack had violated a state public-accommodation law when he respectfully declined to create a custom cake celebrating a same-sex wedding. The Commission then ordered Jack to create custom cakes celebrating same-sex weddings if he created them for weddings between one man and one woman.

WHEN: The original complaint was filed against Jack in 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case in 2017 and issued its ruling for Jack in June 2018.

WHERE: Lakewood, Colorado

WHY: Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips serves everyone, but he can’t express every message or celebrate every event asked of him. When a same-sex couple asked him to create a custom cake celebrating their same-sex wedding, Jack politely declined, because creating that cake would violate his deeply held religious beliefs. He can’t create a cake expressing that message for anyone.

Jack offered to sell the couple anything in his shop or to create for them a custom cake expressing any message that he would create for someone else. But the couple charged Jack with violating Colorado’s public-accommodation law. The State Court of Appeals affirmed the Civil Rights Commission’s decision against Jack, which would force Jack to create cakes expressing messages and celebrating events in direct conflict with his core beliefs.

THE OUTCOME: ADF appealed this case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled 7-2 in Jack’s favor, declaring that Colorado officials had violated the First Amendment by showing “clear and impermissible hostility” toward Jack’s religious beliefs.

The Court called out the Commission’s double standard of punishing Jack but not three cake artists who declined to express messages against same-sex marriage. It also condemned the Commission’s hostile claim that Jack’s plea for religious freedom is akin to defenses used to support grave evils like slavery and the Holocaust.

HOW IT AFFECTS YOU NOW: This Supreme Court ruling provides important religious liberty protection for those who hold biblical beliefs about God’s design for marriage and family. It confirmed that government has no right to ban religious business owners from the marketplace because of what they believe.

Masterpiece was critical in Washington floral artist Barronelle Stutzman’s case. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling against Barronelle for declining to create custom floral art celebrating a same-sex wedding and ordered the court to reconsider her case in light of Masterpiece.

HOW IT AFFECTS YOUR FUTURE: ADF has used the victory in Masterpiece Cakeshop to win key First Amendment victories, including one at the Arizona Supreme Court on behalf of Christian calligraphers, and another at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on behalf of wedding videographers in Minnesota. But government officials and activists are still targeting creative professionals like Jack and Barronelle.

Your support helps achieve important victories like Masterpiece that provide hope for brave creative professionals like Jack and Barronelle who continue to defend religious freedom, not just for them, but for you, and your children, and generations to come.

We know the threats to religious liberty, free speech, the sanctity of human life, and parental rights will not stop. And when those fundamental rights are violated, ADF stands ready to defend them in courtrooms at every level, all across the nation. That’s exactly what we have been doing for more than 25 years. And with God’s blessing we will continue to do so. Will you join us?

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Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith


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