Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football picks up first win of the season in blowout win over Georgia Southern -

October 21, 2017

Student in critical condition after pedestrian-vehicle accident on Friday -

October 21, 2017

UMass women’s soccer fails to secure spot in A-10 tournament with loss to Saint Louis -

October 21, 2017

Struggles with special teams sinks UMass hockey -

October 21, 2017

UMass hockey drops second of the year in 3-1 loss to Ohio State -

October 20, 2017

Amazon textbook contract ending in December 2018 -

October 19, 2017

UMass field hockey heads into crucial A-10 matchup -

October 19, 2017

2017 Hockey Special Issue -

October 19, 2017

International Relations Club tackles tough issues at ‘Foreign Policy Coffee Hour’ -

October 19, 2017

Sexual assault reports spike on campus -

October 19, 2017

Californian students react to wildfires back home -

October 19, 2017

‘My Little Pony: The Movie’ is a surprising animated treat, whether you’re a fan of the show or not -

October 19, 2017

With a young team, Carvel is preparing the UMass hockey team to thrive -

October 19, 2017

Letter: UMass hockey is great, but where are the students? -

October 19, 2017

Boino’s blast gives UMass men’s soccer sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10 -

October 19, 2017

UMass freshmen look to play physical, make an impact and improve early on -

October 19, 2017

UMass hockey sets out to create new program, identity in 2017-18 -

October 19, 2017

Cale Makar: UMass hockey’s crown jewel -

October 19, 2017

Ames: If first four games are any indicator, this UMass hockey season could differ for the better -

October 19, 2017

Josh Couturier looks to find where he fits within UMass lineup -

October 19, 2017

Let them eat cake

(sk / Flickr)

One case on the docket for the Supreme Court this fall, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, is the most recent instance where the debate over discrimination has clashed with the religious freedoms that are protected by the First Amendment.

The particulars of the case are as follows. Jack Phillips owns a bakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado. He views his cakes as masterpieces that transcend their original medium, taking on a deeper meaning. For him, it’s an art form, a way of expressing himself. It was this, along with his deep religious convictions, that led him to deny service to David Mullins and Charlie Craig, a gay couple in search of a baker for their wedding cake. Citing discrimination, Craig and Mullins filed a civil rights lawsuit arguing that they were being denied service because of who they were.

That was five years ago. Since then, gay marriage has been declared a constitutional right, applying to all 50 states. So far, the Colorado State of Appeals has ruled against Phillips, deciding that his First Amendment protections were not being violated by the couple’s request. Given the current ideological breakdown of the Supreme Court, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy likely to be the deciding swing vote, it remains to be seen how the still newly-established court, with the fresh face of Neil Gorsuch, will rule.

What is crucial is how First Amendment protections are applied and understood. According to an article in The Times, “The court added that people seeing the cake would not understand Mr. Phillips to be making a statement and that he remained free to say what he liked about same-sex marriage in other settings.” This is important. There is a fundamental difference between the physical act of speech, something Phillips isn’t being denied, and this “symbolic speech” that is at play here, based on Phillips’ interpretation of baking a cake and the implications it has on the principles of his business.

As previously mentioned, this case will ultimately come down to the swing vote of Justice Kennedy. Recently, Kennedy has leaned toward the side of same sex marriage,  writing the court’s majority 5-4 opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case where it was declared a right. He wrote that there will be “an open and searching debate” between supporters and opponents of gay-marriage.

The conversation in the media regarding this issue has allowed for Phillips to make a case that exudes a religious objection (as opposed to a racial one for example) in order to maintain his own personal convictions which he believes are worthy of First Amendment protections. But this case isn’t any different from denying an orthodox Jewish couple a cake on the religious belief that the Jews killed Jesus or a bi-racial couple on a religious belief against interracial marriage.

However, if one believes that the government should keep their hands out of the private affairs of business, then discrimination doesn’t matter. But that does not mean it is legal, constitutionally permissible or acceptable.

The group that is defending Phillips is the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative group with a strong Christian background. The group filed a brief to the Supreme Court where it outlined the courts rich history in siding with proponents of the First Amendment, citing the 1977 precedent Wooley v. Maynard which said that the state of New Hampshire could not force its citizens to display its “Live Free or Die” motto on its license plates. The Alliance Defending Freedom also wrote, that a cake is “the iconic centerpiece of the marriage celebration.” Exactly, and that’s why Mullins and Craig are entitled to theirs too.

Isaac Simon is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at isimon@umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “Let them eat cake”
  1. Nitzakhon says:

    This has nothing to do with marriages. This has nothing to do with cake. This has everything to do with FORCING people to comply with your lifestyle.

    There are, whether its flowers or cakes, dozens of available vendors – even the ones targeted have, in the past, sold flowers or cakes or whatever to gays. But when it comes to a wedding, which many people who are religious oppose, a vendor is chosen specifically to make an example.

    You people destroyed Memories Pizza; not on the refusal to sell pizza to a gay wedding, but on a hypothetical question of “What if…”.

    So tell you what. Go try and get your wedding cakes from a Muslim baker. And then, if you can legally force them to do so, I dare you to eat it.

  2. Nitzakhon says:

    Oh, and let us not forget it was the DEMOCRATS who passed the marriage licensing laws to prevent interracial marriages, since you brought it up…

Leave A Comment