LAKEWOOD – When Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, rejected a request for a same-sex wedding cake based on his Christian beliefs, he didn’t anticipate becoming the target of hate-filled emails and phone calls, much less death threats.
“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and the Bible,” Phillips told The Colorado Observer. “I said I’m sorry but I don’t do wedding cakes for same-sex marriages.”
Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig had their hearts set on one of Phillips’ designer cakes for their wedding reception in October. When Philips refused, Mullins recalled on his Facebook page, cussing and accusing Phillips of running a “homophobic” bakery.
A week after the July 19 encounter, Phillips became the target of a MoveOn.org petition that stated, “Change your bigoted policies regarding the treatment of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community.” The petition, sent to millions of MoveOn.org members, has gained national attention.
The petition was written by Macklin MacKenzie, who said Mullins and Craig had “spent time dreaming up their perfect day to celebrate their love and commitment to each other, and they admiringly chose this business to add one of the most traditional pieces to their ceremony – the cake.”
Instead, McKenzie said, “Dave and Charlie were denied service because of their sexuality. As a member of the LGBT community, I am appalled by this abhorrent behavior… I’m not sure how the cakes taste, but I know how bigotry and hate tastes and it is disgusting.”
State laws prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in regards to employment, housing and public accommodation. The latter typically refers to restaurants, bars, clubs, hotels, spas and recreation centers. The statute hasn’t been tested for wedding cakes – as yet.
Phillips said he offered to sell another type of cake to the same-sex couple, but he has legal counsel just in case anyone decides to litigate wedding cakes.
The family-owned business has turned down several same-sex wedding cake requests over the past decade.
But, Phillips also may be a victim of discrimination. An online search of Masterpiece Cakeshop turns up the bakery’s website and photos of beautifully designed cakes – and a boycott ad on Google.
“This ‘business discriminates against Gay People!” warns the ad posted by Dee Galloway, a poet and singer in the Denver metro area. She also included the bakery’s phone number and email.
“I’ve had nasty emails and calls, but on the other hand my business is overloaded with customers,” said Phillips. In response to the attacks, the bakery has seen a surge in business this week.
“I’m inundated with extra business,” declared Phillips.
Mullins and Craig found a cake at Le Bakery Sensual inDenverfor their wedding reception here after getting married this October in Massachusetts.
In 2006,Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment to recognize marriage between a man and a woman, and that same year rejected a referendum that would have sanctioned same-sex civil unions.
Legislative bills to establish same-sex civil unions failed in House committees in 2011, and during the special session in May.
State Sen. Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) offered an amendment to the bill in April to protect individuals and entities from being forced to perform services for same-sex couples that were against their personal beliefs and religious convictions. The amendment was defeated in the Democrat-dominated Senate.
Sounding prophetic, Mitchell at the time warned that without the amendment, religious institutions and businesses would be vulnerable to same-sex advocates who might sue anyone who refused to offer services such as couple counseling, wedding event center rentals and caterers.
“We’re going to spread this policy. We’re going to marginalize people with different views and overcome their conscientious objections. We’ll sue them,” said Mitchell of the impassioned proponents for civil unions. “We’ll regulate them. We’re going to deny their licenses. We will stamp out dissent.”
The Masterpiece Bakery here is the latest boycott against businesses across the nation for freedom of speech and religious values. None is bigger than the reaction to privately held Chick-fil-A, which takes in about $4 billion a year, because its president Dan Cathy stated his belief in marriage is rooted in biblical principles of one man and one woman.
“We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy told the Biblical Reporter publication on July 2.
Since then, the mostly family-owned drive-thru restaurants has been grappling with a nationwide battle by pro-gay marriage groups to boycott the business. The controversy hit Colorad oon Wednesday –protestors demonstrated outside a Chick-fil-A on the 16th Street mall and proponents caused traffic jams lining up for the drive-thru at the takeout restaurant inThornton.
Whether it’s a battle for civil rights by the GLBT community or freedom of speech and religion by business owners, some like state House Assistant Majority Leader Mark Waller also view this as yet another liberal-propelled attempt to cloud the real issues facing Colorado and the nation in an election year.
“The Democrats have consistently used divisive social issues to try to take the focus off what this election is truly about – and that’s jobs and the economy,” said Rep. Waller of Colorado Springs.