What the state can do to me - it can do to you

Article author: 
Jack Phillips
Article publisher: 
Denver Gazette
Article date: 
16 October 2023
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

For more than 10 years, a Colorado law has been misused to punish me for something I didn’t do. For more than 30 years, my family and I have quietly operated Masterpiece Cakeshop, baking treats and specializing in custom-designed cakes to celebrate special occasions. I welcome everyone into my shop, treat them with respect, and if they ask for a particular kind of custom cake, do my best to create something beautiful and memorable.

Like most of us, I too have sincere beliefs that guide and inspire my life, so I can only create custom cakes that will express or symbolize a message consistent with my beliefs.

My creativity is inseparable from my convictions, and both run deep in my soul.But this desire to create art that is consistent with who I am is what has brought me into conflict with state officials who have tried to force me to say something I don’t believe. The Colorado government, and then an activist attorney, have misused state law for over a decade now, trying to harass and punish me until I express messages against my beliefs — or go out of business. This relentless prosecution violates both my religious freedom and my free speech.

I had to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with the help of my attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom in 2017, where a 7-2 majority determined that state officials had shown impermissible hostility toward me and my religious beliefs. That went a long way toward shoring up my religious freedom, and I’m grateful. But sadly, the court’s ruling didn’t address how state law was misused to violate my free speech — as it continues to be today...

But for what I thought was a decision that artists across the country were able to freely make every day, my family has received over 10 years of hateful e-mails, phone calls, letters, and even death threats. I’ve lost years to litigation, many of my employees, and all of my wedding business...