OK look, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Christian baker. And I’m happy. Yeah, the media is calling the decision “narrow” but it’s also very useful.
But before I get into that the headline here from Reuters just ticks me off.
“U.S.Supreme Court backs Christian baker who spurned gay couple.” Now, here’s a case where the highest court in the land found that a government entity acted, according to Reuters with “an impermissible hostility toward religion.”
Wouldn’t that be a more pressing headline? The government discriminated against Christians! But no. Because to them that’s the way it should be. The baker is still the wrongdoer in that headline, not the victim.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado Christian baker who refused for religious reasons to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religious beliefs.
The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The ruling concluded that the commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
But the court did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on their religious views. The decision also did not address several of the claims raised in the case, including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech.
Two of the court’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
“The commission’s hostility was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,” Kennedy wrote.
“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” Kennedy said….
Kennedy also noted that the commission had ruled the opposite way in three other cases brought against bakers in which the business owners had refused to bake cakes containing messages they disagreed with that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage.
“Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that,” said Kristen Waggoner, a lawyer at conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips.
She added that the decision “makes clear that the government must respect Jack’s beliefs about marriage.”
To me, this is key. What the “narrow” part of the decision is that the court is saying that the law was not being applied equally. But that’s the point. The point of the law was to discriminate against Christians. It can’t be applied equally. It just can’t. Could you imagine the government forcing a gay baker to bake a cake that says “Sodomy stinks…no literally.” They wouldn’t. No way. The point of this law was to bully Christians. And the media can call it a narrow victory all they want but it’s a victory. These people are out to ban Christianity from the public sphere. They failed. Call it narrow or whatever. It’s a victory.