The Associated Press reports that Colorado officials are again dealing with a baker refusing a customer’s request for a cake having to do with same-sex relationships, but this time it’s a bit different. A man in Denver has complained that by not agreeing to decorate a cake with anti-gay slurs and images, the baker is guilty of religious discrimination against him, the
The owner of the Bakery in Denver, says she is the subject of a confidential review by Colorado’s Civil Rights Division on the complaint. Silva told the AP that her bakery took an order for some Bible-shaped cakes for a customer. Then the man handed her a list of anti-gay phrases and slurs he wanted written on the cakes, and asked her to create an image on it with two men holding hands but crossed over by an “X.” Silva said the man would not allow her employees to copy the list, and refused to read the words out loud.
The bakery owner says she told him she would bake and frost the cakes but would not write the words on them, and offered to give him the icing and pastry bag to do it himself. The man then filed a religious discrimination complaint with the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies.
The matter is drawing comparisons to an ongoing case in Colorado concerning a baker who in 2012 refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, citing his religious beliefs. That baker has appealed a ruling by the state Civil Rights Commission, which upheld an administrative law judge’s decision that he violated the state’s public accommodation law requiring businesses to serve all customers.
The administrative law judge in that case drew a distinction between refusing to inscribe a message on a cake, and refusing to serve an individual at all. The Judge wrote that arguments comparing this case to a black baker refusing to make a cake for the Aryan Nation with white-supremacist messages were not relevant, saying that in that hypothetical “it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse. That, however, is not the case here, where respondents refused to bake any cake for the gay couple regardless of what was written on it or what it looked like.”
University of Denver law professor Nancy Leong does not see how the Denver bakery owner violated the law by not agreeing to put the language on the bible cakes. She stated, “This is not a situation where a business owner denied service to somebody, she offered to accommodate him to the extent that she could. In fact, requiring her to write that message would infringe on her own free speech rights.”
More than a half-dozen business owners around the country have declined various services for same-sex weddings—such as bakers, florists and photographers—in New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Idaho and Nevada, the New York Times reported last month.