Earlier this week, the case Masterpiece Bakery Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission was heard by the Supreme Court. For those who aren’t aware, this case comes from an event which occurred in 2015 when Charlie Craig and David Mullins walked into Masterpiece Bakery to purchase a cake for their upcoming wedding after the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. Upon entering, the men were met with the owner, Jack Phillips who, when asked about making a wedding cake, said that he did not make them for same-sex couples, but that they could purchase anything else in the store. While they were able to receive a cake from a different bakery, Craig and Mullins filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Right’s Commission under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act which prevents businesses from ridiculing customers on the basis of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
This case has been spreading around social media accompanied by plenty of personalized interpretations of how it should go. There are people who are proud of Mullins and Craig for carrying their experience all the way to the Supreme Court. There are some who haven’t kept up with the case, but are happy that it’s getting this amount of attention. Then, there are always those who post angry rants on Facebook expressing their annoyance over yet another LGBT+ issue being shoved down their throats. Whichever category you fall under, it is paramount that you take note of the events of this case to recognize why it is so important.
For those who read up on this specific case and asked yourselves, “Why didn’t they just go to another bakery?” I can begin to understand why you might feel like this could have been solved that easily. Yes, if one business treats you poorly, you should leave and forget about it as you scroll through other possible options. But there is a fine line between mistreatment and discrimination.
Mistreatment suggests that maybe somebody didn’t treat you the way that you had expected them to. Say that you were at a restaurant and you were served cold food. You called over the waiter and politely asked if you could send it back to the kitchen, but he rolled his eyes and showed a clear attitude when he took your plate back. Say you’re also straight, male and white. You were mistreated.
Discrimination is on a whole other level. Say you wanted a dress for your senior prom so you went into a shop and managed to find the perfect dress. Now say that you have darker skin and were told to leave the store as soon as the salesperson saw that your girlfriend was waiting outside of the dressing room and they weren’t comfortable with having you two in the store. What you just experienced was discrimination.
The incident in the bakery was not simply just a matter of a couple who wouldn’t go to a more accepting bakery. What happened was different because of the fact that this couple was denied a cake for their wedding solely based off of them being two men in a romantic relationship. Mullins and Craig were appalled by Jack Phillips behavior, who looked at the men and told them that he doesn’t “make cakes for same-sex couples”.
If they wanted to ignore this and continue their wedding cake search, they could have done so very easily. But they didn’t. Instead of walking out feeling defeated and dehumanized, they spoke and let their voices be heard by the country to show that the continuous treatment of their community will not be swept aside.
The simple idea of marriage is still a widespread debate, even after same-sex marriage was legalized in all 50 states more than two years ago.
But when two people, any two people, come into your business willing to spend their hard-earned money on your product, shouldn’t you accept their payment, listen to their concept and treat them well so that they will refer you to their friends and families?
Phillips may have turned these men away, but they are not allowing their voices to be silenced. If all instances like this continued to be pushed under the radar, what would prevent them from occurring? Any member of the LGBT+ community is not trying to force their sexuality onto you when they go in to buy a cake, trust me. I can assure you that all anyone in this beautiful community wants is to feel welcome, equal and, overall, human. In order to do this, do not single them out because of who they happen to fall in love with. Congratulate them. Be excited with them. Sell your products to a huge community and get your business known on a larger scale! Don’t turn them away because their relationship does not resemble yours.