Justice Kennedy

Judges Rule Against Gay Men In Supreme Court Baker Case

Justices ruled against the two gay men in the Supreme Court baker case, emphasizing the right for religious freedom and upholding the First Amendment. But what does this mean for gay people?

Judges Rule Against Gay Men In Supreme Court Baker Case

George Carlin - supreme court baker case

For the last ten to fifteen years, and maybe even longer, anti-religious sentiment has become widespread.

All you have to do is look at any stand-up comedian, and a good portion of them will have a routine bashing religion, including George Carlin, Doug Stanhope, and Jim Jeffries, just to name a few.

And this is just one segment of popular culture.

As a whole, an anti-religious conviction is a norm in music, literature, art, and film. One of the most recent anti-Christian films out today was Darren Aronofsky’s film, mother!

What A Better Way To Get A Standing Ovation Than By Talking Badly About Religion

If you want a standing ovation from your peers, what a better way to achieve that than by talking badly about religion, especially Christianity, and sometimes Islam.

Although, in the last few years, people will defend Islam with terms like “Islamophobia,” but Christians don’t get the same free pass. Because Christians aren’t a threatened minority who face regular discrimination in American society.

What’s worse, is that people who trash-talk religion typically have this aura of self-righteousness about them, as if they have the monopoly on truth, and anybody who has any kind of religious conviction must be “dumb” or even insane.

There’s Some Truth To Their Criticism

However, they do have a point about the negative sides of faith.

Human beings have committed a lot of atrocities in the name of religious faith. But, on the other hand, humanity has inflicted crimes using all sorts of beliefs as justification, including political ideologies, or sometimes over material resources and land.

Whether it’s in vogue to hate religion or not, it was a win for the religious, yesterday, as the Supreme Court recognized this fact of modern culture and used it against the anti-religious – for lack of a better word.

Supreme Court Ruled In Favor Of Jack Phillips

On the 4th of June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Colorado Baker who denied a gay couple’s request to make them a cake.

David Mullins And Charlie Craig - supreme court baker case

Back in 2012, two gay men, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, went to Jack Phillip’s bakery and asked for him to custom-design a cake for their reception in Colorado before their wedding in Massachusettes.

After Phillips rejected them, they said they felt “humiliated” by his decision. So, they complained to Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission.

The commission and the state courts ruled in their favor. David and Charlie won.

The Colorado Court of Appeals decided that Mr. Phillips’ rights to free speech weren’t violated, because they never even discussed the design of the cake beforehand.

Moreover, they explained that even if he did make them a cake, his religious convictions wouldn’t be threatened because no one would even know what his views on gay marriage were had he made the cake.

He was free to say whatever he wanted about same-sex marriage following his business with the two men.

His Art Was An Expression Of His Faith

But clearly, Jack Phillips is the type of man who considers his work as an expression of his moral and religious beliefs. To him, it isn’t “just a cake,” that he’s making.

His art is an extension of himself, his beliefs, his personality, his principles, and his life.

And it turns out that Mr. Phillips is a man of sincere religious conviction. According to the Chicago Tribune, Jack doesn’t make cakes that have anything to do with Halloween either, because, to him, it violates his religious principles.

There’s no doubt that Phillips was a religious man, and the Supreme Court recognized that. It played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the case.

Do A Person’s Civil Rights Overpower The Rights Of A Business Owner?

What made this case incredibly important is that it asked the question: do a person’s civil rights overpower the objections made by a business owner?

It was a challenging decision to make, because where do we draw the line as a society? We have to grant the rights for the religious to practice their faith, but at what point does your faith infringe on another’s rights as a person?

While the Supreme Court justices defended the rights of the religious, how will this affect gay people?

And What Does This Mean For Gay People?

The LGBT community is now worried – and with good reason – that the Supreme Court Justices just made discrimination against gay people “ok.”

Their argument is that now, justices have set up a legal precedent for future discrimination. Hopefully, this isn’t the case, but it may be.

The Original Parameters Of The Case

Initially, the crucial theme of the case was for the justices to either, 1) reinforce the rights of gay people, as well as same-sex marriage, or 2) allow for businesses run on religious principles to continue their practice as they see fit.

Justice Kennedy

Justice Kennedy is a frequent upholder of two core commitments, free speech, and the rights of gay men and lesbians.

However, yesterday, he did something else entirely and criticized the decision made by the Colorado court based on their anti-religious sentiments.

According to the Justices, which decided in a 7-to-2 decision, there were frequent “inappropriate and dismissive comments” toward religion.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy based his ruling on the fact that there was “hostility” against religious principles in the decisions of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and other justices.

He said that disputes such as this one “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.”

The State Courts Attacked Religion

Rather than respecting Phillips’ right to religious conviction, the State Civil Court attacked his beliefs and even mentioned past wars, claiming that religious convictions are the root cause of many tragedies throughout history.

A commissioner in the Colorado state court said the freedom of religion had been used to inflict all kinds of discrimination on peoples throughout history, whether it’s slavery or the Holocaust.

Kennedy wrote that their statements deriding the right to practice religion was inappropriate for a court who is supposed to have an obligation to a fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

The Supreme Court Emphasized The Right To Religious Freedom But May Have Damaged The Rights Of Gay People In The Process

The organization representing Mr. Phillips, Alliance Defending Freedom, basically said that the anti-religious sentiments expressed toward him in the state courts were at odds with American values.

They said the case was a victory for religious freedom.

And truth be told, whether our society is religious today or not, the right for an individual to practice their faith in America is one of the founding rights and values of the nation. It’s the First Amendment.

A lawyer for the group, Kristen Waggoner, said that government hostility toward people of faith is completely inappropriate and not acceptable in American society.

The fact that the Colorado Court openly derided Mr. Phillips religious convictions was inconsistent with the values and principles on which American society is predicated.

However, Rachel B. Tiven, one of the executives for the legal group, Lambda Legal, recognized the point made above: that the ruling over this case may set up a precedent for discrimination against gays in the future.

She said they will “fiercely resist” the upcoming effort of those in American society who try and use this Supreme Court ruling as a “broad license to discriminate” against gay people.

Other Things To Consider

As a side note, sometimes people forget what the Supreme Court Justices are actually supposed to do. Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t their job to be the moral arbiters of society. They are not the all-knowing and wise sages who preside over the most controversial issues in the United States today.

They’re just lawyers, trained in the field of constitutional principles, amendments, and prior legal precedents. In other words, it’s their job to go back in history, look at what the Supreme Court did in other cases, and apply it to pertinent issues today.

They also don’t have any legislative power, and the decisions they make sometimes take years to trickle down into the other branches of government, including the executive and legislative branch.

For instance, back in 1954, the Supreme Court decided that racial segregation in public places is unconstitutional in the infamous Brown V. Board Of Education of Topeka. It took years for that decision to have its effect on the school system at large.

image sources

  • George Carlin – Supreme Court Justices Rule In Bakers Favor: HeBrokeEven.WordPress.com
  • David Mullins And Charlie Craig – Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Baker: IBTimes.co.uk
  • Justice Kennedy: NBCNews.com

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