WASHINGTON -- Eighty-six members of Congress have filed an amicus brief in support of Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in his upcoming Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
"A government that tells you what you can't say is bad enough," warned Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo. "But a government that tells you what you must say and what you must do, and punishes you if you don't is frightening."
"That kind of state power should scare all of us no matter where we stand on this issue," she said.
Phillips, a Colorado native, found himself in legal trouble when the bakery owner declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Phillips says since he opened his bake shop in 1993 he has served many same-sex couples. But when two men came into his shop in July 2012 asking for a custom wedding cake, he said no.
According to the Alliance Defending Freedom's website, "Jack offered to make the couple any other type of baked good or sell them a pre-made cake, but because of his faith, he could not design a cake promoting a same-sex wedding ceremony."
"For me, it's never about the person, its only about the event," explained Phillips. "I serve everyone, but I cannot create custom designs for events or messages that conflict with my conscience."
The same-sex couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for sexual orientation discrimination after the exchange. In December of 2013, an administrative judge ruled against the bakery, saying that creating cakes for same-sex wedding receptions is not protected by the First Amendment. Phillips was then ordered to start designing cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies.
"One of my most favorite parts of my job is creating wedding cakes because it allows me to bring my love of art, painting, sculpting, and air-brushing to create something beautiful and unique for that event," he said.
"And I never thought that the government would try to take away my freedoms and force me to create something that went against my conscience," Phillips continued. "But the state of Colorado did and has forced me to lose 40 percent of my business and most of my staff."
In June of 2017, the Supreme Court granted the ADF's request to take up Phillips' case. The group says it expects oral arguments to be scheduled this fall.