The Supreme court has announced that in its new term beginning next month it will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case pits public accommodations for LGBTQ+ individuals against religious beliefs. The July, 2012 incident in question involves cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. Philips refused service to a gay couple seeking to buy a cake for their wedding on the grounds that it was a violation of his religious beliefs to participate in a same-sex wedding. Under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, this is a violation, but federally under the 1964 Civil Rights Act sexual orientation is not a protected class.
Religion, on the other hand, is a federally protected class. So the question becomes “Will the supreme court affirm the religious right to discriminate against same-sex couples?” More on that in a bit.
SatanCakes for the Soul
Because they are concerned about the potential outcomes of the case, The Satanic Temple has announced that they plan to find interested couples who have been discriminated against for Satanic wedding parties at their headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. The party’s services would include requesting a Satanic themed cake from the offending confectioner.
“Our organization has received a lot of concerned messages from people who are upset by the prospect of an environment in which the LGBTQ community are openly and legally treated as second class citizens,” said TST co-founder Lucien Greaves in a recent press release. He went on:
“The laws of the United States require that no one may discriminate by way of refusal of service against an evangelical theocrat for their religious beliefs, but the evangelical theocrat may discriminate against LGBTQ people because of who they are. Because religion is a protected class, a baker may refuse service to LGBTQ people, but they may not refuse service based upon someone’s religion. If they aren’t willing to make a cake for same-sex unions, let’s have them make a cake to honor Satan instead.”
— Lucien Greaves (@LucienGreaves) September 26, 2017
Its an Interesting Gambit
In another Colorado case from 2015 a Christian man filed a religious discrimination claim against a bakery for refusing to write anti-gay slogans on a cake. In that case it was determined that the baker was under no obligation because the language was derogatory irrespective of the customer’s religion. However, when the offending content is merely another’s religious content it would appear that federal anti-discrimination law would compel public accommodation. Essentially, since at the federal level LGBTQ+ rights aren’t protected, but religious rights are, TST is asserting that allowing service providers to discriminate against a religion based on what they find offensive would be a clear violation of federal law.
In addition, TST’s press release says their Salem Headquarters “offers Satanic marriages performed by ordained officiants,” which is news to me and I think they kind of buried the lead there. I was not aware the organization had yet to register any wedding celebrants, but I’m heartened by that news.
Photo Credit: Lucien Greaves via Twitter