Tag archives: same-sex marriage

The Unshakable Faith of a Baker From Colorado

by Kaitlyn Shepherd

July 9, 2021

I remember when Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was argued at the U.S. Supreme Court in December 2017. People hoping to witness the oral arguments had been camped outside the Court for days. That morning, crowds of people waited to hear how the justices would rule on Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who had declined to make a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.

In May 2021, Phillips published his account of what happened in The Cost of My Faith: How a Decision in My Cake Shop Took Me to the Supreme Court. The book describes his split-second decision to not bake the cake, explains the ensuing years of legal challenges, and recounts the lessons he learned from the experience. His story is an encouraging testimony of God’s faithfulness to sustain His children throughout life’s difficulties.

As Legal Battles Mounted, Phillips’ Faith Only Grew

Phillips begins by recalling a life-changing conversation he had with two men, David and Charlie, who came into Masterpiece Cakeshop to ask him to create a custom wedding cake for their wedding. Phillips politely declined, stating that he could not create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding but that he would be happy to sell them anything else in his shop. The conversation was brief, and David and Charlie refused to give Phillips a chance to explain his rationale further.

Phillips recalls his desire to extend the conversation so he could explain that although he will gladly serve anyone, he cannot express every message “because of the content of the message that the imagery or words on the cake might convey” (3). Since opening Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993, Phillips had adhered to this simple rule and had previously declined to make cakes featuring a variety of messages, such as obscene language, hateful rhetoric, and statements or images that “mocked or contradicted [his] faith” or celebrated events such as divorce or Halloween (61, 71).

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled against Phillips and held that compelling him to express messages he disagreed with did not violate his First Amendment rights. After the case worked its way through the lower courts, the U.S. Supreme Court took the case. In June 2018, the Court sided with Phillips and held that the Commission’s actions violated Phillips’ right to freely exercise his religion. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the record showed the Commission’s “clear and impermissible hostility” toward Phillips’ sincerely-held religious beliefs, and he explained how the Commission treated Phillips differently than other bakers, who declined to create custom cakes that expressed messages opposing same-sex marriage.

Less than a month after this victory, Phillips faced another legal challenge. On the same day that the Supreme Court granted cert in Phillips’ case, one would-be customer, Autumn Scardina, had requested a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate a gender transition. Phillips declined to create the cake because of its intended message. In response to charges brought against him by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Phillips and his attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the Commission. In March 2019, the state’s attorneys offered to settle the case after evidence showing the Commission’s continuing hostility to Phillips’ religious beliefs surfaced. After this second victory, Phillips hoped to continue his business in peace.

That peace, however, was remarkably short-lived. In June 2019, Scardina, seeking over $100,000 in fines and damages, filed another lawsuit against Phillips in state court. On June 15, 2021, the court ruled against Phillips. The court found that Phillips’ refusal to bake the cake was based on Scardina’s transgender status, not on the cake’s intended message, and that forcing Phillips to bake the cake would not violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.

Phillips concludes the book by describing the lessons he learned during the many years of legal challenges. He states that although some may have intended their attacks to destroy his faith, his faith is now stronger than ever. He expresses gratitude for having been given a platform to speak the truth. Phillips has also grown in humility and patience and has learned to be a better listener. He has gained a greater appreciation for the wise system of government instituted by the Founders. Most importantly, though, Phillips experienced God’s goodness:

[C]oming through oppressive days, enduring the death threats, the hate mail, the obscene phone calls and public demonstrations, seeing the tears of my wife and the worries of my children, hearing people call me a bigot and a Nazi, listening while elected officials openly mocked the deepest convictions of my soul—let me assure you, this is when God’s mercies abound. This is when He comforts us in the deep places of the soul that only He can reach. (188–89)

Peaceful, Unshakeable Faith in God’s Provision

Phillips’ compelling testimony is a must-read for any believer. First, Phillips’ account provides a thorough and accessible description of one of the most influential religious freedom cases of the past decade. He clearly describes the timeline of events and explains why the case was so momentous, not only for him but for all people of faith (98). Although the case concerned Colorado’s attempts to compel Phillips to speak messages that violated his conscience and to force him to choose between his religious beliefs and his business, the case has broader implications for the rights of all Americans “who share[] his biblical views on human sexuality and marriage” (194).

Second, Phillips’ story will encourage believers who may feel disheartened. Although losing 40 percent of his business, facing hateful emails and death threats, and having his reputation attacked by public officials could have caused Phillips to waver in his faith, his testimony overflows with a sense of peace and an unshakeable belief in God’s character and provision. As Phillips recalled while waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict:

You might think the long wait was especially stressful—an exercise in impatient endurance, where we gritted our teeth to get through the endless days. But it wasn’t like that at all. I genuinely felt an immense peace after our arguments. I was content in knowing we’d done everything we could do. That we’d been as faithful as possible and the outcome really was always totally in God’s reliable hands. (143)

Phillips’ faith is a testament to the Holy Spirit’s power to encourage believers throughout life’s challenges.

Finally, Phillips’ account can inspire believers to stand firm in their faith. Although his experiences could have made him retreat from his faith, Phillips viewed them as an opportunity:

What’s the point of suddenly being on so many people’s radars if you can’t use those moments to share with them your deepest beliefs? That, for me, is the best news in the whole world: the love of Jesus Christ. (11)

Unfortunately, hostility toward Christianity and toward those who adhere to a biblical worldview is only increasing. Like Phillips, may we all have faith to stand firm and to be willing to serve as God’s instrument whatever the cost.

Kaitlyn Shepherd is Research Assistant for Legal and Policy Studies at Family Research Council.

Procreation at 55? Don’t Laugh.

by Peter Sprigg

March 29, 2013

On March 26, the U. S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging California’s “Proposition 8”—the state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman that was adopted by voters in 2008.

Perhaps the roughest moment for Charles Cooper, the attorney representing the proponents of Proposition 8, was when Justice Elena Kagan challenged the argument that marriage exists to promote procreation by spinning a hypothetical question about a couple where the man and woman are both 55 years old, and thus unlikely to procreate.

The (mostly liberal) audience laughed—either unable or unwilling to understand Cooper’s answer, which was actually quite cogent. He began by noting, “It is very rare that both parties to the couple are infertile,” but Kagan cut him off with another question about the couple (rather than the individuals) involved.

Cooper again went on to explain:

Your Honor, society’s … interest in responsible procreation isn’t just with respect to the procreative capacities of the couple itself. The marital norm, which imposes the obligations of fidelity and monogamy, Your Honor, advance the interests in responsible procreation by making more likely that neither party, including the fertile party to that [marriage, will procreate outside the marital relationship].

Except the last part, in brackets, Cooper did not actually get to say, because he was again cut off.

Perhaps Cooper was wary of appearing sexist to Justice Kagan if he stated the truth more bluntly—55-year-old women are virtually always infertile, but 55-year-old men are not. As frustrating as it may be to some feminists, there are some sex differences which cannot be overcome. (Justice Antonin Scalia tried to save Cooper with a joke about Strom Thurmond, the late U.S. Senator who continued to father children well into his 70’s, but it seemed to go over the audience’s heads.)

Society’s interest in promoting “responsible procreation”—the term most commonly used in defending marriage as the union of a man and a woman—involves not just promoting procreation itself, and promoting it in a responsible context (i.e., where the mother and father who make a child are both committed to the child and to each other through marriage). “Responsible procreation” also implies an effort to discourage irresponsible procreation—a quite plausible example of which might be a 55-year-old man going around impregnating fertile women (presumably younger than himself) who are not his wife.

Advocates for redefining marriage really ought to listen more, and laugh and scoff less—especially when they are in the Supreme Court of the United States. Otherwise they make themselves, not their opponents, look ignorant.

Marching for Marriage

by Robert Morrison

March 28, 2013

I’ve been going to pro-life marches since 1981, so I’m getting used to the drill. Still, this week’s March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. promised to be different in many ways. It was slated to coincide with the U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act and on California’s Proposition 8. The media says Prop 8 was designed to “ban” homosexuals from marrying. It was designed for no such thing. As was the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8 was designed to protect an institution that is under attack.

The media puts us in the anti position. That’s typical. We’re said to be anti-abortion when we say we are pro-life. We have this odd notion that the child in the womb should not be killed. If we came out against hanging, I guess the media would call us anti-gravity.

I arrived early on the Mall for the March, so I ducked into the great red Smithsonian Castle for a cup of coffee. It was only $3.47. I sat down at a table to savor this monumental brew when an attractive blonde lady asked if she might join me. She had to charge her cell phone. Sure, I replied, and asked if she might be here for the March for Marriage.

Oh, that,” she said, rather dismissively and told me she had come to Washington from California for a conference this week. Happily, our conversation did not descend into a nasty spat. “I don’t know what I think about that issue,” she said, “but I know what my son thinks. He’s a journalism major at San Francisco State. Wants to be a combat journalist.”

Then she mentioned she had not been to Washington in five years and wanted to know what was new. Instead of belaboring my case for marriage, I decided to take another tack, I told her about the new Lincoln Cottage and the new Mount Vernon Museum and Visitors Center. That led to a nice chat about George and Martha Washington. I told her of Mary Weiss, a historical interpreter at Mount Vernon. She does “Lady Washington” and offers the best understanding we are likely to have of that amazing woman. That amazing wife.

I confessed that I wish I had studied the relationship between George and Martha Washington more earlier. What an incredible partnership their marriage was. I spoke of how Lady Washington risked death visiting the army camp every winter. Valley Forge and other winter quarters had many diseases, including smallpox. George had survived the deadly disease as a teenager visiting Barbados, so he had an immunity. Did she?

Without being too obvious about it, I made the case that the United States might very well not exist were it not for the great marriage of George and Martha Washington. We had been for two centuries a monarchical people.

Independence was more than Declarations and more than battles, it was also a state of mind. And having George and Martha Washington to take the place of King George III and Queen Charlotte was essential to our making that critical break.

We parted, Mrs. California and I, on pleasant terms. And we avoided any combat for her son to report.

Onto the Mall. I saw many old friends from the March for Life. But I saw so many new friends. It was amazing to see how many black, Hispanic, and Asian folks had come out for this one.

State Sen. Ruben Diaz harangued the crowd estimated at 5-8,000. Sen. Diaz is from New York. He spoke in Spanish. He crowed: “I’m black. I’m Hispanic. I’m against abortion. I’m against this homosexual stuff. And I’m a Democrat.” He added that he wins by 89% in his state senatorial district.

FRC’s Cathy Ruse put her case for marriage in more positive terms. She argued for true marriage by emphasizing the protection of children. So did Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall. Jennifer cited the 11-year old girl who testified for marriage in St. Paul, Minnesota.

We watched on the jumbotron as this precocious pre-teenager described her love and her gratitude toward her mother and then her father. Pointedly, she asked the state lawmakers in the Capitol: “Which one do I not need?” She asked the suddenly close-mouthed solons again: “Which one do I not need?”

Right. They had no answer. Moving through the crowd, I encountered a group of people from a Korean-American Church in Flushing, Queens. Four hundred of these faithful Christians had ridden all night on a bus to attend this march. Four hundred!

The GOP bigwigs are forever wailing about “outreach.” Every time they lose an election—which they seem to do effortlessly—they conduct “autopsies” on themselves, in public. Don’t try this at home. The party suits assure us they want to be more inclusive.

My advice to them is simple: Try going to church some Sunday morning. You’ll find you don’t need outreach. You could try inreach. In my pew, we have blacks, Hispanics and Asians. We exchange the handshake of peace every week. But I don’t see them as ethnic groups. They’re my friends. They’re my fellow worshipers.

Those faithful folks from that church in Flushing probably haven’t seen an ad for a Republican since Reagan in 1984. Reagan embraced these good people. The GOP bigs ignore them.

That’s why we say pro-life and pro-marriage are bridge issues, not wedge issues. They are the way for conservatives to talk to minority Americans—soon to be the majority.

Some on the left know that liberals are phonies on this issue. David Weigel of Slate, writes:

In his memoir, Democratic consultant Bob Shrum remembers John Kerry fretting that the Massachusetts Supreme Court had forced Democrats to talk about gay marriage before they were ready to. “Why couldn’t they just wait a year?” he asked Shrum, mournfully. The second camp consists of people who really do oppose the idea of gay people getting married. Republicans argued that this second camp was tiny, and that liberals were hiding behind it. They were right!

When we see dozens of Democrats abandoning their previously held positions and a few Republicans also willing to betray the voters who put them in office, it would be easy to become cynical about everyone in politics.

But we have to stand firm and push back. Marriage is a blessing to families. Three-quarters of the teen rapists in our prisons are fatherless young men, so are two-thirds of the teen murderers. Even gay martyr Matthew Shepherd was killed by two fatherless young men. Marriage bashes no one. Marriage benefits everyone.

We know that the marriage issue helped re-elect George W. Bush in 2004. I attended his historic speech in Pittsburgh the day before that re-election. I heard him give a strong endorsement for the pro-life and pro-marriage positions. I say his speech that day was historic. Re-elected the next day, we never heard another word from President Bush on life or marriage.

The Republican consultants and their party power brokers welcomed our votes. They never thought they’d have to actually stand up for what they assured us they believed.

We are seeing a great sorting out. We saw that early in the country’s life, too. Thomas Paine wrote about the sunshine soldiers and the summer patriots who cut and run when there was fighting to do.

These are the times that try men’s souls. Women’s, too. But it’s for our children and our grandchildren that we stand fast. On earth, there’s no better cause.

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