The United States Supreme Court is setting aside a Colorado court ruling against a baker who wouldn't make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. But the court is not deciding the big issue in the case, whether a business can refuse to serve gay and lesbian people.
The court's fault lines were laid bare in a riveting argument that focused equally on baker Jack Phillips' right to refuse to put his artistic talents to use in support of something in which he disagrees and the Colorado couple's right to be treated like any other two people who wanted a cake to celebrate their marriage.
The justices' limited ruling Monday turns on what the court described as anti-religious bias on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission when it ruled against baker Jack Phillips. The justices voted 7-2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission violated Phillips' rights under the First Amendment.
Justice Anthony Kennedy says in his majority opinion that the issue "must await further elaboration." Appeals in similar cases are pending, including one at the Supreme Court from a florist who didn't want to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.
The commission said Phillips violated the Colorado anti-discrimination law that bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012.
Colorado is among only 21 states with statewide laws barring discrimination against gays in public accommodations.
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