The United States Supreme Court announced this week that it will hear the case of a baker based in Colorado who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Jack Phillips - the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver - turned away couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig who requested a rainbow layer cake for their wedding reception in July 2012.
Phillips rejected their request on both “religious” and “artistic” grounds.
His lawyers described their client as a “cake artist” who will “not create cakes celebrating any marriage that is contrary to his understanding of biblical teaching”.
Senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom David Cortman said: “Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won’t create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government.”
“It imperils everyone’s freedom by crushing dissent instead of tolerating a diversity of views.
“We are all at risk when government is able to punish citizens like Jack just because it doesn’t like how he exercises his artistic freedom.”
Three different courts in Colorado have previously ruled on the ongoing case, finding that Phillips had violated the state’s public accommodations law that's designed to stop discrimination against customers on the basis of race, sex or sexual orientation.
Lambda Legal senior counsel Jennifer C. Pizer released a statement expressing concern about the use of religious freedom as a means to discriminate.
“From wedding cakes and flowers to haircuts and lodging, we are seeing some business owners claiming religious rights to turn away LGBT people, ignoring that the public marketplace must be open to everyone regardless of anyone’s religious beliefs," she said.
“Legal arguments trying to win new religious rights to reject customers easily can open the floodgates of religiously motivated discrimination.
“This case is about a same-sex couple and baked goods, but its implications are far reaching because religious beliefs vary widely," Pizer added.
Mullins and Craig released a statement following the news that the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.
“This has always been about more than a cake,” said Mullins.
“Businesses should not be allowed to violate the law and discriminate against us because of who we are and who we love.”
Craig added: “While we’re disappointed that the courts continue debating the simple question of whether LGBT people deserve to be treated like everyone else, we hope that our case helps ensure that no one has to experience being turned away simply because of who they are.”