To Bake a Cake or Not

What are the legal obligations to provide services to others? The question before the US Supreme Court concerned a Colorado cake baker that did not want to provide a cake to a gay couple getting married. The decision was specifically in favor of the baker in this case, although on a technicality that may or may not prove to apply in the future.

So what about the general question that was not answered? Should cake bakers that object to gay marriage be forced to bake cakes for gay couples? This is not about what is morally “right” or “wrong” – I personally feel it is “right”, even for Christians that may not support gay marriage. But this is specifically a legal question that I want to address.

The current law does make it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, national origin, or disability. And this law applies to all businesses that are places of public accommodation, with some exceptions for religious non-profits. For example, in this case, it would be clearly illegal to not bake a cake for a black or Muslim couple.

So the question legally comes down to whether or not sexual orientation should also be protected against discrimination in the same way. When put in these terms, I do think it looks pretty simple – just as we as a society have evolved to believe it should be illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or religion, so too should it be illegal in this case!

Note that this actually kind of surprises me. I actually thought that a private business, as opposed to a publicly held company, could refuse service in more cases. I’m glad that is not the case, but I’ll admit I did not know this was clearly already the legal answer in these other cases. So why should sexual orientation be any different – it should not!

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