Discrimination or religious liberty? High court to hear bakery case

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The Supreme Court is set to hear on Tuesday a religious liberty case that has major national implications – centering on a baker who refused to make a cake to celebrate a same-sex couple’s marriage.

The baker said he believes God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. The couple said the refusal amounts to discrimination.

A cake shop started it all five years ago, and it’s one of the most controversial gay rights cases ever to be heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Charlie Craig and David Mullins have been fighting a legal battle against Masterpiece Cake Shop, who refused to bake their wedding cake.

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was judged through multiple phases of litigation to have violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

MORE: Supreme Court extends same-sex marriage nationwide

Will the U.S. Supreme Court concur? The ACLU, who represents the couple, hopes so.

“When a business opens its doors to the public, it must serve the public,” a spokesperson said. “It can’t discriminate against certain members of the public, and that’s what happened in this case.”

“Our clients in the Masterpiece case have already felt the stinging harm of being turned away from a business simply because of who they are, a harm that no one should ever have to endure,” said James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project. “A ruling in this case to give businesses the right to refuse service to customers would shatter longstanding non-discrimination laws and have wide impacts on religious and racial minorities, single mothers, people with disabilities and others.”

For religious leaders in Colorado, the case is of equal importance.

“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” baker Jack Philips said.

MORE: Supreme Court considers same-sex marriage

Since 2012, Philips has said says he just wanted to live out his faith.

“Jack’s case is important for everybody,” said Jeff Hunt, director of the Conservative think tank the Centennial Institute, who said how Christians live out their faith is at stake.

“Business owners have the freedom of consensus to be able to chose what they want to be a part of, that’s what is at stake in Jack’s case, and I think the Supreme Court has recognized that the lower courts have gotten this wrong,” he said.

A legal analyst said the justices’ decision will impact the entire U.S.

“I don’t think the fact they have taken the case necessarily means they are taking it to reverse it,” Chris Decker said. “It simply means that the issues that are underlying in the case are significant merit.”

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