Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom

Case Law, Current Events, Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases
Lauren Mattiuzzo

Five years ago, two gay men were turned away by the Christian owner of a bakery in Lakewood, Colorado because of his religious beliefs. The case has been in court ever since and will be heard by the Supreme Court in its new term, which began on October 2nd. This controversial case will examine issues of both equal rights and religious liberty.

Facts of the Case

In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins planned to legally wed in Massachusetts, because their residing state of Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriage. They planned on returning to Colorado to celebrate with family and friends. The couple visited the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Denver to find the perfect cake for their celebration. However, the bakery’s owner, Jack Phillips, refused his services, claiming it violated his religious beliefs.

Craig and Mullins filed a complaint to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission under the state’s public accommodation law, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against their customers on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The complaint resulted in a lawsuit, Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, with the ruling in favor of the plaintiff. The cake shop was ordered to change its company policies which meant providing wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Refusing to follow these orders, the shop appealed the decision stating the original ruling was a violation of the First Amendment. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the first decision, declaring the act of making a cake was an expectation of the business and not an expression of free speech or exercise of religion.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. In 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a fundamental right which extends to same-sex couples in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who authored the majority ruling for this case, will also be hearing Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Kennedy is a well-known defender of gay rights and free speech.

Resources in HeinOnline

To read the Obergefell v. Hodges case, enter the case citation 135 S.Ct. 2584 into the Case Law tab in the main search bar. Thanks to HeinOnline’s partnership with Fastcase, the full text of the case is pulled into the HeinOnline interface.

Note that HeinOnline’s ScholarCheck has been integrated into Fastcase’s interface. Click the cited by articles link to access articles that have cited this case.

To further research this topic, enter the Law Journal Library and use the Full Text tab to enter “marriage equality” AND “religious freedom” into the search bar. Within the results, use the Section Type and Organization facets on the left side of the page to narrow down search results to show Articles including the Supreme Court.

Another option for searching is the Keyword Search Builder located in the Advanced Search option of the Law Journal Library. Search for the phrases “marriage equality” and “religious freedom” by entering the search terms and applying a weight to each phrase. Then click Submit. This machine learning tool finds articles based on the weight of the search terms.

Results provide you with a list of articles and display your search terms, as well as the weight of each term. To change the results, adjust the weight of the phrases, add a term, or enter a date range.

The American Bar Association’s Preview of the United States Supreme Court Cases is available exclusively through HeinOnline. This publication provides comprehensive expert analyses of all cases argued before the Supreme Court prior to the arguments. Enter this database and type “sexual orientation” AND discrimination into the search bar provided. Users can also search using the Full Text tab.

Use the Sort by bar and filter results by date to show the newest documents first.

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