Colorado Appeals Court: Bakery Cannot Deny Services to Same-Sex Couples

By Adam Polaski • August 13, 2015 • 12:27 pm

Today, August 13, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Denver, CO, cannot deny services to same-sex couples. The ruling reaffirms previous decisions dating back to 2013 from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and an administrative judge, which both found that Masterpiece violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. Read the full ruling here. 

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Freedom for All Americans Campaign Manager Matt McTighe said today:

“This is a tremendous victory for fairness and equality, but it’s also a ruling which reflects American values. In large majorities, both Americans and small business owners believe it’s simply wrong to deny anyone services based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. That’s why we’ll continue working to ensure that every LGBT American – no matter where they live – is protected from discrimination. No one should have to live with the fear that they’ll lose their job or home, or be denied basic services, simply because they’re LGBT.”

He continued: “LGBT people face discrimination across this country every single day. That’s why we must double down on efforts to pass nondiscrimination protections at the municipal and state level, so that LGBT people who do experience discrimination can take advantage of every possible form of legal recourse. And by passing comprehensive nondiscrimination measures all across the country, we make a powerful case for federal legislation.”

In Colorado, state law has protected LGBT residents from discrimination since 2008, when the Colorado Public Accommodations Law was amended to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling today is consistent with state law.

In the decision, Judge Daniel M. Taubman notes:

“…Masterpiece remains free to continue espousing its religious beliefs, including its opposition to same-sex marriage. However, if it wishes to operate as a public accommodation and conduct business within the state of Colorado, CADA [Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act] prohibits it from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation.”

A July 2015 poll from Small Business Majority, American Unity Fund and the Center for American Progress found that a supermajority of business owners – 66 percent – believed business owners should not be able to deny goods or services to LGBT people based on the owner’s religious beliefs. That poll also found that 80 percent of small business owners support comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people.

The business community’s views are mirrored throughout the broader American public: A June 2015 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute tracked support for comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans at 70 percent, including 65% of Republicans.


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