This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of Jack Phillips, the cake baker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony. In a 7-2 decision, the court found that the Colorado Human Rights Commission that imposed sanctions against Phillips for his actions showed open hostility to his religious objections, denying him the kind of even-handed treatment required under the Equal Protection Clause.
This hostility, the court reasoned, was sufficient to justify reversing the Commission’s decision. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy wrote that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.” These views cannot be ignored in an arbitrary and openly hostile manner. As a result of this ruling, sanctions imposed against Phillips by the Colorado Commission won’t be enforced.
Though the ruling didn’t go as far as religious liberty advocates would have liked, the decision is an important one for affirming the place of religion in society. It is hoped going forward that state and local governments, when protecting the civil rights of the LGBT community, will find a way to protect the religious rights of both individuals and communities of faith to continue to participate in public life, both commercially and through acts of charity.