Let them eat cake

By Owen Jennings

You may remember Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. He was asked by gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins to bake them a cake to celebrate their wedding. He refused. The couple were “outraged”. Phillips said it was because of his religious beliefs – he is a Christian – and because Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriage at the time.

The couple filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who upheld their position and through a subsequent court case demanded Phillips not only provide cakes to same-sex marriages, but also “change its company policies, provide ‘comprehensive staff training’ regarding public accommodations discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for the next two years regarding steps it has taken to come into compliance and whether it has turned away any prospective customers”.

Jack, with help from friends, appealed the decision. He was losing business and decided to get out of the cake making side of his operations. The Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal so Jack and friends went to the US Supreme Court. The court was assailed by dozens of groups; about an equal number for and against. The Department of Justice, under Trump, sided with Jack.

The Court issued its ruling on June 4, 2018. By a majority of 7-2, it ordered a reversal of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission’s decision. The Supreme Court found that the state has offended its right to protect religious neutrality. The Commission had likened Jack’s beliefs to being akin to slavery or the Holocaust and the Supreme Court decided that was way too harsh. While the case got Jack off the hook it did not entirely clear up the issue of whether he had the unequivocal right to refuse the couple.

Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that position.
The entire LGBT community were incensed. They ranted and screeched. Within days the courts were assailed this time by an Autumn Scardina, who decided Jack would not whip up a cake for her gender change announcement.

Jack didn’t take this lying down. He countersued for harassment and the case was dropped. It was clear the earlier Supreme Court ruling was apposite – the state was in danger of abusing its religious neutrality again.
However, Autumn was not deterred. Scardina is now the plaintiff in a new suit against Phillips. On June 5, Scardina sued Phillips for the second time, this time claiming that he refused to make Scardina a birthday cake.

It is now apparent the gay and transgender community simply want to take Jack down. They are harassing him to the point where he will throw in the towel just for some peace. He is already pleading to be left alone to do what he loves – making cakes – not defending litigation.

The campaign to destroy Jack’s business was never merely about punishing a single person for refusing to submit to prevailing leftist orthodoxy. It was also a warning to all would-be apostates that thought crimes could lead to fiscal ruin, public denunciation, and endless harassment. In that sense, the prosecution has probably already paid off.

It’s worth noting that it wasn’t howling protesters but the state-empowered Colorado Civil Rights Commission that attempted to destroy Jack’s business when he refused to design a speciality cake for Mullins and Craig’s gay wedding ceremony in 2012—before gay marriage was even legalized in Colorado or recognized by federal courts.

Sadly, that is where we are heading here in New Zealand. Andrew Little’s efforts, aided by that “menace” to free speech, Golly G, are likely to lead to more coercive powers in legislation and a state agency established to police free speech. An agency that will have to justify its existence by harassing individuals. How will it continue to get funding if it doesn’t “do something”? Our communications of all types will be ransacked by busybody bureaucrats desperate to please their masters.

It is very possible our courts in New Zealand won’t be as circumspect and as rigorous on upholding our basic rights and as swift to cut down hyperactive, interfering state agencies.
The outlook is grim.