Jack Phillips, a Colorado native and cake artist, opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993 and has joyfully served the community of Lakewood, Colorado for more than 20 years. In his years of business, Jack has been a part of major milestone events for many in the community. He’s watched families grow from young couples requesting wedding cakes to parents requesting graduation cakes for their children.
Masterpiece Cakeshop is also a family business. Among his other employees, one of Jack’s sisters decorates cakes, another sister volunteers to keep the shop clean, and his elderly mother takes care of accounting needs a few hours each week.
As a Christian, Jack knows that God can work as He chooses, including using small bakeries like Masterpiece Cakeshop to do His work. “[God] has chosen this bakery to do a lot of different things that we had never planned and that we would never want to stop,” he said. Jack’s faith motivates how he operates his business, but he would one day find out that the State of Colorado could force him to strip every ounce of his faith out of his business.
In July 2012, two men came into Jack’s cakeshop requesting a custom wedding cake celebrating their same-sex marriage. In a very brief exchange, Jack politely declined the request, saying that he could not design cakes for same-sex weddings, but offering to design them custom cakes for other occasions or to sell them any other premade item in his shop.
Shortly after that, Jack started to receive phone calls from people threatening and harassing him because of his decision to not use his artistic talents to design a cake celebrating the couple’s same-sex marriage. Instead of responding in anger, Jack saw the calls as an invitation to prayer: “[The phone calls] give me an opportunity to pray for people I wouldn’t know.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys and ADF allied attorneys came to Jack’s defense when the couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination. Even after explaining to the commission that it wasn’t the people Jack objected to, it was the message the cake would send about marriage, an administrative law judge ruled against Jack in December 2013, saying that designing and creating cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies are not speech protected by the First Amendment. The commission ordered Jack and his staff to either violate Jack's faith by designing custom wedding cakes that celebrate same-sex marriages or stop designing all wedding cakes, which was approximately 40% of Jack's business. In addition, Jack and his staff were ordered to go through a “re-education” program and file quarterly “compliance” reports telling the government every time that Jack declines a custom cake request and explaining the reasons why.
In July 2016, ADF attorneys and allied attorneys petitioned the United States Supreme Court to take up Jack’s case. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court granted review of the case. On December 5, 2017, ADF argued on Jack's behalf.
Thankfully, on June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of Colorado cake artist Jack Phillips. The ruling reversed the state’s decision to punish Jack for living and working consistent with his religious beliefs about marriage.
Through all of this, Jack continues to trust in God’s plan for his life and for the future of Masterpiece Cakeshop. “I can trust Him and know that God is doing what he’s going to do. And if He’s chosen us to be a part of that, that’s quite an honor.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is here to protect the right of creative professionals to use their God-given talents in ways that are consistent with their beliefs.