(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in the case of a Colorado "cake artist," Jack Phillips, accused of engaging in sexual orientation discrimination under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he refused to designed a custom cake celebrating the same-sex marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
The question before the court is this:
Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel Phillips to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the Free Speech or Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment.
In an op-ed in Monday's USA Today, Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd., makes it clear that he never refused to sell Craig and Mullins a cake: "I’m happy to sell a cake to anyone, whatever his or her sexual identity," Phillips wrote.
But a wedding cake is different, Phillips said:
What I design is not just a tower of flour and sugar, but a message tailored to a specific couple and a specific event — a message telling all who see it that this event is a wedding and that it is an occasion for celebration.
In this case, I couldn’t. What a cake celebrating this event would communicate was a message that contradicts my deepest religious convictions, and as an artist, that’s just not something I’m able to do, so I politely declined.
But this wasn’t just a business decision. More than anything else, it was a reflection of my commitment to my faith. My religious convictions on this are grounded in the biblical teaching that God designed marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Obviously, not everyone shares those convictions. I don’t expect them to. Each of us makes our own choices; each of us decides how closely we will hold to, defend and live out those choices.
The two men who came into my shop that day were living out their beliefs. All I did was attempt to live out mine. I respect their right to choose and hoped they would respect mine.
They did not. And, considering all of the hate mail, obscene calls and death threats my family has received since I was sued, a lot of other people don’t see tolerance as a two-way street, either.
Phillips said the First Amendment defends his right to create custom cake art that is consistent with his faith.
"Just as I shouldn’t be able to use the law to force others to design something that promotes my beliefs, others shouldn’t be able to force me to design a cake that celebrates theirs.
"That, for me and those at Alliance Defending Freedom who are defending me, is what this case is about. I hope the U.S. Supreme Court affirms that basic freedom."