March 14, 2019

Thursday (Moderated) Open Thread (031419)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:00 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items which they believe need to be known. Rules are here.

Positivity: Masterpiece Cake Shop’s Jack Phillips — ‘Can I just be a cake artist again?’

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:55 am

From Denver, Colorado, published in the Denver Post (HT Catholic News Agency):

March 8, 2019 at 12:47 pm

I’ve spent the last six-plus years asking Colorado officials to return something they stole from me: my freedom.

For decades, I was just a cake artist. I opened Masterpiece Cakeshop in 1993. And each day since then, I have focused my artistic talents on creating custom cakes — talents that I developed through countless art classes and years of practice. I have used my skills as a designer, sculptor, and painter to build Masterpiece Cakeshop into an “art gallery of cakes.”

But in 2012, I became more than an artist. I became a target of Colorado officials who were unabashedly hostile to my faith.

Commissioner Diann Rice blasted my (and your) constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom as a “despicable piece of rhetoric.” She and her colleagues forced me out of the wedding industry, costing me 40 percent of my business. In their eyes, it seemed, my religious beliefs were incompatible with participation in a tolerant society.

In other words, my beliefs were intolerable.

Not everyone agreed, thankfully. In December 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard my case, and Justice Anthony Kennedy reminded the parties — and the world — that “tolerance is essential in a free society.” He criticized Colorado officials, stating they had been “neither tolerant nor respectful of Mr. Phillips’s religious beliefs.” And in 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in my favor, with Justice Kennedy again chastising the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for its “clear and impermissible hostility toward [my] sincere religious beliefs.”

I was vindicated, or so I thought. I hoped that I could return to being just a cake artist.

But Colorado officials weren’t done. They continued their campaign of harassment, notifying me that they believed I had violated Colorado’s public accommodation law by declining a request from an attorney to create a custom cake with a pink and blue design celebrating a “gender transition” from male to female.

Once again, I prepared for another legal battle. But this time, I wasn’t going to sit back and allow the state to prosecute me without a fight. I decided to push back. Through my attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, I filed a lawsuit against the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, the commissioners on the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, and other state officials. I did this because no one should be driven out of business because of their religious beliefs.

Those legal proceedings revealed an even deeper hostility toward my faith than previously known. My attorneys quickly learned that one state commissioner called me a “hater” on Twitter. Then, just last week, we found out that two other commissioners had publicly endorsed Commissioner Rice’s anti-religious statements. Soon after this, Colorado officials agreed to drop their most recent case against me.

I hope this is the end of my legal battles, and that I can return to my quiet life as a cake artist. I love creating my cake art for all people. What I can’t do is create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with my religious beliefs.

And that should be OK because a truly tolerant society tolerates different convictions. The First Amendment protects the peaceful exercise of my beliefs, and it protects my choice of what not to say and what not to celebrate. It protects you as well.

I lost the right to live out my freedom for nearly seven years. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else.

Here’s hoping that we as a nation learn to tolerate and respect our differing beliefs and that governments stop harassing people whose faith they dislike. If that happens, then maybe, just maybe, I can go back to being just a cake artist.

Go here for the rest of the story.