Battlefield: Cake - the Rapidly Evolving Fight over Gay Marriage, Anti-Discrimination Laws, and Free Speech

By Shackford, Scott | Reason, August-September 2015 | Go to article overview

Battlefield: Cake - the Rapidly Evolving Fight over Gay Marriage, Anti-Discrimination Laws, and Free Speech


Shackford, Scott, Reason


GAY COUPLES across America are planning their nuptials, ordering wedding invitations, renting out reception halls, choosing color schemes, arguing over seating charts, and deciding how many tiers their wedding cakes should have. Some, though, have encountered a barrier: Not every wedding-focused business is interested in celebrating their love.

The photogenic wedding cake, with its instantly recognizable toppers in the shapes of brides and grooms, has become the go-to symbol for this latest front in the culture war, though florists, photographers, and wedding venues have also turned same-sex couples away and wound up embroiled in legal battles as a result. Some people, often for religious reasons, do not want to provide their wedding services to gay couples and believe doing so is the equivalent of expressing approval for these relationships. They argue that their rights to free speech and practice of their religion would be compromised if ordered to do so.

Long ago, it was commonplace to see signs that declared, "We reserve the right to refuse business to anybody" in retail businesses. But the days when those placards actually meant anything are long gone. States have anti-discrimination laws and public accommodation regulations that tell businesses when they're allowed to turn customers away--or, more accurately, when they are not.

In Colorado, where it is actually against the law to post one of those signs these days, Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Bakeshop in Lakewood, declined to offer his services to a gay couple due to his religious objections to same-sex marriage. The couple filed a complaint and Colorado's Human Rights Commission declared in 2014 that Phillips violated the state's anti-discrimination policies. Not only was he ordered to change his ways, but the commission demanded he submit quarterly reports to show how he had altered his practices and trained his employees for the next two years to make sure he complied.

In Gresham, Oregon, Sweet Cakes by Melissa declined to prepare a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. Like Phillips, the bakery's owners, Melissa and Aaron Klein, felt that participating in a same-sex wedding would go against their religious beliefs. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled in February that the owners had engaged in discrimination in violation of state law. In April it further recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000 for the emotional damages caused by failing to serve the couple. The owners closed Sweet Cakes at the end of 2013 amid the battle and now operate out of their home. (All this transpired, incidentally, before the state itself started legally recognizing gay marriages.)

In March 2014, a Christian named Bill Jack attempted to flip the script by trying--and failing--to order a cake from a Colorado bakery highlighting his position that homosexuality is a sin. His protest illustrates the tangled interactions between speech, belief, commerce, and anti-discrimination laws.

Helping untangle the mess is Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and legal blogger at The Washington Post. Volokh explains that a cake, in and of itself, has not typically been seen by the law as an expression of speech. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Battlefield: Cake - the Rapidly Evolving Fight over Gay Marriage, Anti-Discrimination Laws, and Free Speech
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.