(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Business owner Jack Phillips stands to lose his livelihood after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, to either provide cakes for every type of marital ceremony, or close his doors.
In a Facebook Live interview with the North Carolina Values Coalition on Tuesday night, Phillips explained how he’s fought the government since 2012, when he refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, citing his religious belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
“I was denied the freedom to choose what cakes I can make and what cakes I can decline to make,” he said.
David Mullins and Charlie Craig—the gay grooms-to-be—sued Phillips, almost costing him his business.
On May 30, 2014 the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Masterpiece Cakeshop unlawfully discriminated against Mullins and Craig by refusing to sell them a wedding cake, regardless of his religious convictions. He was given two choices—sell wedding cakes to anyone who wants one, or shut down.
Phillips chose his faith.
“My issue is that I don’t want to be forced to participate in a same-sex wedding,” Phillips told KCNC-TV in Denver, noting that he had “no problem” with preparing cakes and other desserts for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) customers in other circumstances.
Phillips has sued for his right to conduct his business according to his religious beliefs, with the help of a local attorney and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation in many such cases.
“This is not about the people who asked for a cake; It’s about the message the cake communicates,” said ADF-allied attorney Nicolle Martin of Lakewood, who is serving as co-counsel in the case. “No artist should be punished for declining to promote ideas or participate in events when they disagree with the message communicated.”
Phillips’s story is one in a string of recent attempts by the government to silence Christian conservatives. The Washington State Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers, had also discriminated against a same-sex couple for declining to provide bouquets for their ceremony.
“You have to make a stand somewhere in your life on what you believe and what you don’t believe,” Stutzman told CBN in an interview. “It was just a time I had to take a stand.”
Like Phillips, Stutzman is fighting the ruling, and plans to take her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his interview with the NC Values Coalition, Phillips said he was surprised the event was initiated by a government action, claiming it is the government’s job to protect our rights and freedoms, not to violate them by forcing citizens to comply with its policies.
Now, Phillips said, he is forced to face the repercussions of standing for what he believes—including fines, vulgar phone calls, and even death threats.
“I got a call from a gentleman that said he was on his way to come and shoot me,” Phillips said. “He told me what streets he was on, what turns he was making, and that he even knew my daughter was in the shop with me.”
While Phillips said he refuses to back down, he decided Masterpiece Cakeshop will no longer sell wedding cakes in order to refrain from violating both the law and his conscience. He said he has lost 40 percent of his business in the process.
“Basically, I stand to lose everything,” Phillips said. “Weddings are a huge part of our business. But this was the easiest way to comply with the state law.”
Jeremy Tedesco, ADF’s senior counsel, said both Phillips’s and Stutzman’s cases are about the government infringing on citizens’ religious freedom.
“No one—not Jack or anyone else—should be forced by the government to further a message that they cannot in good conscience promote,” he said. “We are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to ensure that government understands that its duty is to protect the people’s freedom to follow their beliefs personally and professionally, not force them to violate those beliefs as the price of earning a living.”
Phillips said he hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will allow him to continue doing what he loves, without violating his religious convictions.
“God is bigger than this situation,” he said. “We turn our faith to Him and trust Him to do what is right and just.”