WASHINGTON -- The case of the Christian cake maker in Colorado who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex couple is now in the hands of nine U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Attorneys for Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, argued the case is about the government requiring an artist to express speech against his firmly held religious beliefs.
Five years ago Phillips declined to make a wedding cake for David Mullins and Charlie Craig, who were planning their wedding reception.
Speaking outside the Supreme Court Tuesday, Phillips said, "It's been very hard on me and my family. There have been many tears and many difficult days for us."
"I've faced death threats and harassment," he continued.
When Mullins and Craig visited his store to order a wedding cake Phillips told them he'd sell them anything in his shop, but he couldn't, in good conscience, make them a wedding cake.
The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under Colorado's non-discrimination law, which includes sexual orientation.
Their attorneys argued Phillips' refusal to bake the couple a cake amounts to discrimination. Mullins and Craig say they were humiliated by the Phillips' denial.
For Phillips it's been a five-year court battle. "I've had to stop creating the wedding art that I love," he says, noting that it has also affected his livelihood.
He says the government is forcing him to choose between providing for his family and employees and his relationship with God.
This is the first case before the high court involving homosexuality since justices heard arguments on gay marriage.
"It's sort of about marriage; it's definitely about religious freedom, but it's mostly about speech," Lynne Marie Kohm, a professor at the Regent University School of Law, told CBN News. "Can a state force an individual to express himself in a way that is totally against his firmly held religious belief?"
Justices are expected to make a decision in the case this spring.