The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear the case of a suburban Denver baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple on faith-based grounds, in the latest religious freedom case to be considered before the nation's highest court.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, had refused to sell a customized cake for a gay couple's union, claiming a religious exemption to the state's anti-discrimination law.
State courts had ruled against the businessman.
The high court will now decide whether applying Colorado's public accommodations law to compel the baker to create "expression"-- a wedding cake -- violates his constitutionally protected Christian beliefs about marriage.
Phillips told the Supreme Court he has free speech and religious rights under the First Amendment that should protect him. He said he should not be compelled to bake a cake specifically to honor a same-sex marriage.
Colorado's anti-discrimination law, though, protects people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Charlie Craig and David Mullins had filed a complaint against Phillips and his suburban Denver shop after Phillips said he would not create and decorate a cake in honor of their marriage.
Colorado did not permit same-sex couples to marry until 2014. Two years earlier, Craig and Mullin were planning to fly to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was legal, and host a reception in Denver upon their return to Colorado. They wanted a cake for the occasion.
The case will be another in a series of "religious liberty" disputes the justices have reviewed in recent years, and could be an important First Amendment test of the extent anti-discrimination laws apply to gay Americans.
Oral arguments will likely be held in court's term beginning in the fall.
The case is Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (16-111).
In a separate decision on Monday, the Supreme Court ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.
The justices on Monday issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld a law stating married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.
Meanwhile, the court on Monday declined to review a California law restricting permits to carry handguns outside of the home for self-defense.
A San Diego man had filed suit, saying state and county policies requiring "good cause" -- a specific reason or justifiable need to legally carry a concealed weapon -- were too restrictive. A federal appeals court had ruled for the state and now those restrictions will stay in place.