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Masterpiece Cakeshop: Civil Rights Commission to hear gay wedding cake case tomorrow

Should bakeries be allowed to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples? The Colorado Civil Rights Commission is expected to answer that question tomorrow, when it will hold a public hearing to determine whether the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood discriminated against a gay couple who attempted to order a wedding cake in 2012.

Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig claim that Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips refused to bake one for them -- an action that Judge Robert Spencer determined last year was discriminatory. Phillips appealed that decision to the commission.

See also: Masterpiece Cakeshop: Yelp removes negative comments, while supporters create Facebook group

Spencer's ruling, which is on view below, found that Colorado state law prohibits "a place of public accommodation" -- which includes cake shops -- from discriminating against a person based on his or her sexual orientation. And Spencer didn't buy Phillips's argument that he's not opposed to gay people, just gay weddings.

"The salient feature distinguishing same-sex weddings from heterosexual ones is the sexual orientation of its participants," Spencer wrote. "Only same-sex couples engage in same-sex weddings. Therefore, it makes little sense to argue that refusal to provide a cake to a same-sex couple for use at their wedding is not 'because of' their sexual orientation."

Will the Colorado Civil Rights Commission agree? The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow in the old Supreme Court Chambers of the Colorado State Capitol.

Initial Decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar

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