Judge orders Colo. cake-maker to serve gay couples

Dave Mullins, right, and his husband Charlie Craig are pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a wedding cake for a family reception in Colorado after they were married in a Massachusetts ceremony. At issue in the complaint from David Mullins and Charlie Craig against the cake maker is whether religious freedom can protect a business from discrimination allegations by gay couples. AP photo

Dave Mullins, right, and his husband Charlie Craig are pursuing a discrimination complaint against a Colorado bakery, saying the business refused them a wedding cake for a family reception in Colorado after they were married in a Massachusetts ceremony. At issue in the complaint from David Mullins and Charlie Craig against the cake maker is whether religious freedom can protect a business from discrimination allegations by gay couples. AP photo

DENVER — A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs or face fines, a judge said Friday.

The order from administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver discriminated against a couple “because of their sexual orientation by refusing to sell them a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage.”

The order says the cake-maker must “cease and desist from discriminating” against gay couples. Although the judge did not impose fines in this case, the business will face penalties if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint against shop owner Jack Phillips with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission last year on behalf of Charlie Craig, 33, and David Mullins, 29. The couple was married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake to celebrate in Colorado in 2012. When Phillips found out the cake was to celebrate a gay wedding, he turned the couple of away, according to the complaint.

Nicolle Martin, an attorney for Masterpiece Cakeshop, said the judge’s order puts Phillips in an impossible position of going against his Christian faith.

“He can’t violate his conscience in order to collect a paycheck,” she said. “If Jack can’t make wedding cakes, he can’t continue to support his family. And in order to make wedding cakes, Jack must violate his belief system. That is a reprehensible choice. It is antithetical to everything America stands for.”

Phillips can appeal the judge’s order, and Martin said they’re considering their next steps.

Mullins said he hopes the “decision will help ensure that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”

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