The case involving a bakery owner who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple will soon have its day in court — and scores of people, including big food celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, are taking sides.
The incident at the center of the case took place back in 2012, when Jack Phillips, the owner of a Colorado bakery called Masterpiece Cake Shop, told would-be customers David Mullins and Charlie Craig that he would not bake their wedding cake. Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws prohibit businesses from refusing service based on sexual orientation, but Phillips said providing a cake for a same-sex marriage was against his religious beliefs, leading to a constitutional debate: Do such anti-discrimination laws violate religious freedoms?
The case has now made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court; the American Civil Liberties Union is representing Mullins and Craig. This week, numerous individuals and institutions filed friend-of-court briefs in support of the couple — including leaders from major corporations such as Apple and Marriott, more than 200 Congresspeople, civil rights activists, and more than 1,000 faith leaders.
A brief endorsed by more than 200 chefs, bakers, and restaurateurs — including Bourdain, Milk Bar queen Christina Tosi, Food Network personality Duff Goldman, hero chef José Andrés, The Chew host Carla Hall, and former White House chef Sam Kass — argues that the baking of cakes is not protected under the First Amendment. “Even when prepared by celebrated chefs, food retains a clear purpose apart from its expressive component: it is made to be eaten,” the brief reads in part. “For that reason, food products (and their preparation) are not necessarily protected by the First Amendment.”
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has thrown its support behind Masterpiece Cakeshop: The Department of Justice filed a brief with the court in September arguing that the government could not force Phillips to bake a cake that conflicts with his religious beliefs.
The ACLU is slated to begin oral arguments in front of the court on December 5.
• Briefs Filed in Support of Same-Sex Couple Discriminated Against by Bakery [ACLU]
• Supreme Court to Hear Anti-LGBT Bakery Case [E]
• Trump Administration Sides With Baker Who Refused to Bake Gay Wedding Cake [E]