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Panel: Colorado baker must make cakes for gay weddings

By: Associated Press
May 30, 2014 Updated: May 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm
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photo - Nearly two years after a same-sex couple was refused service at a Colorado cake shop, a civil rights panel on Friday deemed the act discrimination and ordered the owner to halt the practice. (The Denver Post)
Nearly two years after a same-sex couple was refused service at a Colorado cake shop, a civil rights panel on Friday deemed the act discrimination and ordered the owner to halt the practice. (The Denver Post) 

DENVER — Colorado's Civil Rights Commission on Friday ordered a baker to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, finding his religious objections to the practice did not trump the state's anti-discrimination statutes.

The unanimous ruling from the seven-member commission upheld an administrative law judge's finding in December that Jack Phillips violated civil rights law when he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2012. The couple sued.

"I can believe anything I want, but if I'm going to do business here, I'd ought to not discriminate against people," Commissioner Raju Jaram said.

Phillips, a devout Christian who owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, said the decision violates his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of his religion. "I will stand by my convictions until somebody shuts me down," he told reporters after the ruling.

He added his bakery has been so overwhelmed by supporters eager to buy cookies and brownies that he does not currently make wedding cakes.

The couple who sued Phillips, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, were pleased that the commission roundly rejected Phillips' arguments. "We're just thrilled by that," Mullins said.

Gay marriage remains illegal in Colorado. Mullins and Craig were married in Massachusetts and wanted a wedding cake for a reception to celebrate their union back home in Westminster, another Denver suburb.

State law prohibits businesses from refusing to serve customers based on their sexual orientation.

The panel issued its ruling verbally. It ordered Phillips to stop discriminating against gay people and to report quarterly for two years on staff anti-discrimination training and any customers he refuses to serve.

Phillips' attorney said she was considering appealing the ruling to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

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