Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission

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Determined if the First Amendment justifies a commercial business’s refusal to serve a customer in a protected group.

Full Case Title: 

Masterpiece Cakeshop, LTD.; and Jack C. Phillips v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission; Charlie Craig; and David Mullins
  • Fairness in the Courts


  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Joined Amicus Brief


A cake shop refused to sell a wedding cake to a customer after learning that the cake was for the wedding of a gay couple. The Company claimed that the court should exempt it from compliance with the Colorado public accommodations law on First Amendment grounds.

If the couple, in this case, was a heterosexual couple, the Company would have sold them the cake. Therefore, the Company’s refusal was totally based on sexual orientation discrimination. The brief argued that since First Amendment rights do not justify racial discrimination in violation of public accommodations laws, it should not justify sexual orientation discrimination. By allowing this justification to stand, the court would also undermine the uniform enforcement of public accommodations laws, which would adversely affect women. Women, in centuries past, were thought to be inferior due to religious beliefs; it should not be allowed to exempt contemporary discrimination that originates from the same source.