Skip to main content
Supreme Court of the United States

Same-Sex Marriage Doesn't Affect Anyone? Just Ask Jack Phillips

By Marissa Mayer posted on:
October 17, 2017

Since 1993, Jack Phillips has created custom cakes at his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado. From kid's birthday cakes in the shape of tractors and penguins to multi-tiered wedding cakes covered in fondant flowers and bows, Jack uses his creativity and artistic talent to create edible works of art that help celebrate the most special occasions.

In 2012, David Mullins and Charlie Craig entered the shop hoping to have Jack create a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex union.  While same-sex marriage wasn't legal in Colorado at the time (a voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriage in Colorado as between one man and one woman was first struck down by a state court in 2014), the couple decided to  get married in a different state and celebrate with a reception in Colorado.

Jack respectfully declined to use his creative talents in that way because he is a Christian and believes in biblical marriage between one man and one woman. He did offer to make them any other type of cake for any other event, but the couple still filed a complaint, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agreed that Jack was guilty of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Commission apparently felt that Jack's right not to be forced by the government to lend his creative talents to an event that violates his conscience was less important than the couple's desire to have him make their cake. One commissioner even went so far as to call religious freedom a “despicable piece of rhetoric” that slaveholders, the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust, and Jack Phillips himself used to justify their actions.

Yes, one of the commissioners who sat in judgment of whether Jack has a right to operate his business according to his religious beliefs invoked Nazis and slaveholders as justifications to deny Jack his religious freedom.  Jack was entitled to a fair hearing, but it is doubtful he got one from commissioners that hold such a dim view of religious liberty.

My point is this: activists have argued over and over that same-sex marriage does not affect anyone but the two people getting married. I think Jack Phillips would disagree—don't you?

Over the last few years, people like Jack, who believe in marriage as the union of one man and one woman, are being targeted, their livelihoods are being threatened, and they are even being ordered to attend government-run "re-education" programs, all because they refuse to promote or participate in something that conflicts with their conscience.

Jack is an upstanding small business owner who has run his business for over 20 years in accordance with his faith. Now, the state is telling him that he can't do it anymore. In addition to being ordered to re-educate his staff that his religious beliefs are illegal, Jack must file quarterly reports with the Commission to ensure that he's playing by their rules. These reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and why they were declined to ensure that Jack has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

This is not liberty and justice for all—this is just another example of people using same-sex marriage as an excuse to strip away religious freedom in America.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said ADF Allied Attorney Nicolle Martin, who together with ADF has appealed the ruling on Jack's behalf. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

Take Action

There are plenty of people on both sides of the issue who don't believe someone like Jack should be vilified and punished because he holds the time-honored belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman—and that's a good thing. But the sad truth is it's already happened and it will continue to happen to others like Jack regardless of what the Supreme Court decides about marriage later this month.

ADF is committed to defending people like Jack who are brave enough to take a stand for what is right, but we can't do it alone.

You can help us make a difference for religious liberty right now by giving a gift to help defend Jack and others just like him who simply want to live out their faith on a daily basis. 

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer

Senior Copywriter & Editor

Marissa Mayer is an Arizona native who fell in love with the written word at a young age.

Resolution 1
Senate Resolution Reminds Us Why Religious Education Should Be Celebrated

Earlier this week, Senator Lindsay Graham introduced Senate Resolution 407, legislation that celebrates religious schools and their contributions to our country by designating the first week of October as “Religious Education Week.”

How Houston Pastors Successfully Stood Up for Their Constitutional Rights

Imagine if you had escaped government oppression in search of freedom and safety for your family in a new country—only to be greeted yet again with the government treading on Constitutional rights.

Hunter v Doe
This Lawsuit Threatens Religious Colleges and Universities. Here’s What You Need to Know

An activist group, wants to prevent students at religious schools from receiving access to tuition grants, scholarships, and federal financial assistance due to their beliefs about marriage and human sexuality.