By Stephanie Mencimer
In its decision this week in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court wanted a way to rule narrowly in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, without upsetting decades of civil rights law. It seems to have found the answer to its conundrum in a stunt pulled by a religious-right activist. The effectiveness of the stunt, and its embrace by the court’s conservative justices, illustrates the extent to which Christian legal organizations are influencing the law, all the way to the Supreme Court.
In 2014, a man named William Jack paid a visit to Azucar Bakery in Denver. There, Jack demanded two cakes, both in the shape of an open Bible. On one, he wanted “Homosexuality is a detestable sin – Leviticus 18:22” written on one side of the Bible and “God hates sin Psalm 45:7” on the other. On the second cake, he asked the bakery to inscribe “God loves sinners” and “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8” and to include an iced illustration of two men holding hands in front of a cross, covered with what Jack described as a “Ghostbusters symbol,” a red circle with a line through it to indicate that such unions are “un-Biblical.”
The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, told Jack she’d sell him the Bible cakes but wouldn’t write the words on them. She offered to sell him a decorating bag, tip, and icing so he could put the message on himself. Jack returned two more times that day, at one point asking if she’d conferred with a lawyer, but she continued to refuse to sell him the cakes he wanted. When he left for the last time, he told her, “You will hear from me!” Silva told Out Front magazine.
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