The Supreme Court and Cake

The Supreme Court and Cake
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Five years have passed since a Colorado baker of cakes refused to create one of his masterpieces for two men who wanted it to celebrate their  “marriage.”  It’s hard to believe that this incident is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. But it is, and the fact that it has reached such heights indicates how far our nation has descended toward destruction of common sense and the commonly held values that formerly undergirded our nation.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons by Michael Prudhomme, CakesMadeEasy.com under the terms GNU Free Documentation License.

Cake maker Jack Phillips says he has a right to refuse the business of a particular customer whose fundamental intention is not to purchase a decorated cake but to use the transaction to force acceptance of homosexual “marriage.” On religious grounds, he doesn’t approve of “gay marriage” and his refusal to build a fancy cake for a homosexual duo supposedly violates a portion of the U.S. Constitution banning discrimination. I searched but I couldn’t find the particular part of the Constitution on which this case is built. Legal beagles claim it’s discrimination, and that’s something terribly bad. Half a century ago, discrimination was so highly regarded that the Herbert-Tareyton cigarette company advertised its product as “the cigarette for discriminating people.” And a common assessment of the esteem accorded discrimination back then insisted that the only people who don’t discriminate “are prostitutes and fools.”

Sadly, commonly held attitudes of 50 years ago have been pushed aside in the rush to overturn cultural, religious, and even economic mores. Some would claim this development to be “progress.” But that’s another word whose meaning has been turned upside down.

Shouldn’t Jack Phillips have a right to refuse the business of someone who walks into his store and intends, not so much to buy a cake, but to have the planned transaction force acceptance of something abhorred by Phillips and many others? Why does Phillips have to provide an approved reason for saying “No” to a potential customer he knows has an agenda that far exceeds buying a cake? Isn’t his business his property, his “castle,” a place where his right to refuse entry to someone is supposed to be sacrosanct?

A deeper look into this matter shows that the homosexual couple seeking a cake from Phillips planned to have it at their ceremony in New York, not in Colorado. They obviously chose to challenge the Lakewood, Colorado, baker’s distaste for gay marriage. So, the issue isn’t really one of mere refusal to do business with someone. It’s about forcing acceptance of homosexual marriage. By definition, marriage has always been the union of one man and one woman. Homosexual marriage is no more a “marriage” than labeling something water when it isn’t a combination of hydrogen and oxygen.

It’s no surprise to find a spokesman for the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) division taking the side of the supposedly aggrieved cake customers. James Essex of the ACLU claims: “You have freedom to believe and to preach your faith until your actions harm other people.” Does refusal to cooperate with the demands of homosexuals amount to harm? If so, what about possible harm done to a baker who refuses to participate, even in a slight way, in a practice he considers reprehensible, even sinful? Also, what about harming the moral character of this nation?

The Supreme Court will hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the fall. The case progressed from rulings at lower levels favoring the claims of the two men who insist that they are victims of unjust discrimination. Phillips’s attorney David Cortman rightly states, “Every American should be free to choose which art they will create and which art they won’t create without fear of being unjustly punished by the government.”

That makes sense, of course. But good sense doesn’t always prevail, especially when so much more than discrimination is at stake. The high court’s willingness to rule in this case about cake signals that there are far more important matters at stake.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American


Is Polygamy Next?

Is Polygamy Next?
by JBS President John F. McManus

Professor William Baude teaches law at the University of Chicago. In his recent op-ed column published by the New York Times, he wrote: “With same-sex marriage on the books, we can now ask whether polyamorous relationships should be next. There is a very good argument that they should.” Relationships that are polyamorous (a word that doesn’t even appear in my huge 1987 Random House Dictionary), obviously refers to more than two persons cohabitating. The word could obviously mean several males, or several females, or any number of each.

Professor William Baude wrote: “With same-sex marriage on the books, we can now ask whether polyamorous relationships should be next (Photo by Mattpopovich [CC0 or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons).

The “good argument” for such relationships claimed by Professor Baude stems, of course, from the recent Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. According to that revolutionary departure from several millennia of tradition and legality, two males can marry, two females can marry, and the legal door has been shut to those who believe that the noble institution can be a union of only one man and one woman. Baude does admit that it might be difficult “to modify some of our marital laws … to handle larger numbers of spouses.” He wanders far enough from the traditional view of marriage to suggest that plural marriages might be “very good for children.”

Advocates of multiple partners in marriage should be hopeful, claims the professor, because objections to such relationships as those “sometimes come to seem trivial decades later.” And the rest of us should accept these newly crafted trends in a spirit of “humility.”

While Professor Baude seems very comfortable with these possible developments, he throws a bone to those of us (this writer included) who worry what else all of these changes can bring. He closed his article with, “… once we abandon the rigid constraints of history, we cannot be sure that we know where the future will take us.”

True enough, the “rigid constraints of history” shouldn’t be ignored. But there are other restraints even more rigid, such as those issued by the Maker of all of us. Let it be said loudly and clearly that God will not be mocked. Those who are busily redefining marriage may be allowed to have their day, but they too, will eventually stand before Him who sanctified marriage as the union of one man and one woman. And He can be counted on to never alter His view.

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Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.