For the past eight years, LGBT activists sought out and targeted many Christian run businesses in hopes of putting them out of business and possibly winning large sums of money. Their favorite targets were Christian businesses largely associated with weddings, including bakeries, florists, photographers and even venues.
In 2006, Vanessa Willock contacted Elane Photography and asked they would photograph her ‘commitment ceremony’ with her lesbian partner. Elaine Huguenin refused to accept the request based upon her Christian belief. Both Elaine and Jon felt strongly that the message being presented by the lesbian ceremony was against their Christian faith and therefore it would be wrong of them to participate in any fashion.
At the time, same-sex marriages and civil unions were not recognized as being legal in the state of New Mexico. Willock and her partner were attempting to do the next best thing in their minds by having a commitment ceremony.
After Elaine turned down the request, Willock filed a complaint with the New Mexico Human Rights Commission. The complaint stated that the Huguenins had discriminated against Willock because of her sexual orientation. In the meantime, Willock secured another photographer to photo their sinful and perverse ceremony.
In 2008, the New Mexico Human Rights Commission ruled that the Huguenins engaged in sexual orientation discrimination and ordered them to pay Willock $6,639.94 in legal fees. The case then went before a trial judge who upheld the commission’s decision.
In 2009, the Alliance Defense Fund appealed the court’s decision which moved the case before the New Mexico Court of Appeals who just rendered their decision to also uphold the commission’s ruling. Contained in the 45-page ruling, the court said that the photography business is a public accommodation and as such cannot use their faith to discriminate against others based upon sexual orientation. Part of the ruling read,
“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these governmental interests.”
The same thing happened to Barronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene’s Flowers. When a long-time customer asked her to provide flowers at his same-sex wedding, she explained that she was a Christian and that her faith would not allow her to participate in a same-sex wedding. She was consequently sued by the state of Washington for discrimination and violation of civil rights.
When Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, were approached by a couple of lesbians who wanted them to bake a cake for their wedding, the Kleins made a decision to turn down the job because of their moral conviction that homosexual “marriage” is sinful.
Rather than simply go to a different baker, the couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, went to the state and filed a legal complaint of discrimination.
The Kleins say they will sell cakes to anyone regardless of their sexual orientation, but they will not bake a wedding cake for a homosexual ceremony because it goes against their beliefs as Christians. They have subsequently shut down their business and their main source of income.
Jack Phillips owned Masterpiece Cakeshop when he was asked by a gay couple to create a custom wedding cake for their same-sex marriage. Phillips explained he was a Christian and his faith would not allow him to promote same-sex marriage. The gay couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Colorado is totally run by liberal Democrats).
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ordered Phillips to comply with gay requests, provide discrimination training for all his employees and provide quarterly reports on the steps he was taking to comply with the orders. Those reports were to continue for two years.
Phillips appealed the commission’s ruling. The Colorado Court of Appeals (filled with liberal judges) upheld the commission’s ruling. Phillips then appealed his case to the US Supreme Court, claiming that the commission and appeals court rulings violated his First Amendment right to free speech and freedom to exercise his religion.
Currently, the Supreme Court is considering whether or not they will hear Phillip’s appeal. If they turn it down, it means that no Christian will be allowed his or her First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion. If the Supreme Court does opt to hear the case, it could protect the rights of Christians in the business world. There is a lot riding on this case.