Achieving LGBTQ Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Additional Civil Rights

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

STATUS: Amicus Brief Filed

In 2012, Colorado residents David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs, the store would not serve customers who wanted to order cakes to celebrate a same-sex couple’s wedding. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals both ruled that Masterpiece’s denial of service to Mullins and Craig violated the Colorado Civil Rights Act, which prohibits businesses that are open to the public from turning away customers based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it would review the decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals. NCLR filed friend of the court briefs in support of Mullins and Craig in both the Colorado Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. NCLR’s briefs focus on the serious harm that a decision permitting businesses to refuse to serve customers based on their sexual orientation would inflict on LGBT people, especially at a time when they have begun to make significant progress toward full legal equality.

NCLR’s Supreme Court brief was filed jointly with GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders and Pierce Atwood LLP. Arnold & Porter LLP was co-counsel on NCLR’s brief in the Colorado Court of Appeals. Mullins and Craig are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation.

The brief argues that a ruling against Craig and Mullins would mean that many more LGBT people, and their families and children, would be forced to go through their daily lives wondering whether they will be turned away and humiliated when out shopping with their children or buying flowers or jewelry to celebrate an anniversary.

Click here to read our amicus brief, filed with the Supreme Court on 10/30/2017

Click here to read our amicus brief, filed with the lower court on 2/13/2015

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