A Christian baker who refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage has asked Colorado's highest court to take his case and rule that the government cannot force him to communicate a message with which he fundamentally disagrees.
According to CBS News, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled in August that the Christian faith of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, did not exempt him from making cakes for gay weddings, as such an act constitutes discrimination.
That ruling came after a decision made in May 2014 by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, requiring Phillips to make cakes for same-sex celebrations, to engage in "re-educating his staff" and to file reports for two years that show that he is adhering to the state's anti-discrimination laws.
According to Phillips' attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, the latest movie is an attempt to secure a religious-freedom exemption for the baker and other Christians like him seeking to abide by their religious beliefs.
"The freedom to live and work consistently with one's faith is at the heart of what it means to be an American," Jeremy Tedesco, a lawyer with the firm, said in a press release. "Jack simply exercised the long-cherished American freedom to decline to use his artistic talents to promote a message with which he disagrees."
He added, "We are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people's freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living."
As reported by the Gospel Herald, Phillips' legal trouble started in 2012 after he refused to provide a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
"In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith," read a press release from Phillips' team.
However, the couple complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which in turn cited Colorado's Anti-Discrimination Act in finding Phillips guilty of discrimination, regardless of his beliefs on homosexuality.
Earlier this year, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a brief with the Colorado Court of Appeals arguing that the baker just declined to make a cake that violates his Christian beliefs, and that he would similarly reject "cakes with offensive written messages and cakes celebrating events or ideas that violate his beliefs, including cakes celebrating Halloween, anti-American or anti-family themes, atheism, racism, or indecency."
On his part, Phillips has stated in the past that he would rather close down his bakery than go against his Biblical views on marriage.
"I believe I make a personal contact with [customers] in trying to create what [they] want. ... So it's more personal, it's not just a product," he explained.
"With the wedding, I feel like I'm involved in the wedding and this is a wedding ceremony. As a Christian, the Bible teaches that the relationship is sinful, and it's wrong and that we're to avoid participating in sin. And in my mind this would be participating in that," he said. "My faith in Jesus Christ comes before my need to bake cakes for a living, and if I have to close down the bakery and pursue another line of work, I would do that before I would compromise my faith."