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Religious Liberty: Not A Piece Of Cake

Days after Masterpiece Cakeshop, Arizona appeals court smashes Christian business, citing SCOTUS ruling

Well, as a reader points out, we have our first court ruling on religious liberty since Masterpiece Cakeshop. An Arizona appeals court even cited the ruling in its own ruling against two Phoenix calligraphers who said that doing same-sex wedding invitations was a violation of their constitutionally protected religious beliefs. Here’s a link to a PDF of the full text of the ruling. Excerpts:


Nor do we doubt that a law prohibiting a baker from writing certain words on a cake may implicate the
First Amendment. None of these hypothetical First Amendment violations are currently before us, and they do not affect the outcome of this case. The case before us is one of a blanket refusal of service to the LGBTQ community and not a First Amendment challenge to a specific message requested by a specific customer.

This is splitting the finest of hairs. The Christian calligraphers are not refusing to serve gay customers. They do not want to serve gay customers requesting that they (the calligraphers) create written work connected to a same-sex wedding. (The court ruling notes that the calligraphers also have a blanket policy refusing to create work that involves racism, incitement to violence, and any marriage other than one-man-and-one-woman; fundamentalist Mormons and other polygamists should take their trade elsewhere.)

Look how Talmudic this reasoning becomes:

And on:

Even assuming, arguendo, that Appellants’ business constitutes an expressive association, Section 18-4(B) remains constitutional in scope and application. The right to associate may permissibly be infringed if the regulation is adopted to “serve compelling state interests, unrelated to the suppression of ideas, that cannot be achieved through means significantly less restrictive of associational freedoms.” Fraternal Order of Eagles, Inc., Tucson Aerie No. 180 v. City of Tucson, 168 Ariz. 598, 602 (App. 1991) (quoting Jaycees, 468 U.S. at 623). We have previously found that eliminating discrimination constitutes a compelling interest.

That gay couples should be able to get hand-crafted wedding invitations from a pair of Christian calligraphers is such a compelling state interest that the calligraphers must be forced by the state to violate their religious convictions in order to provide them. This tells you all you need to know about what constitutes “compelling” for the judicial elite. The hurt feelings of the gay couple in acquiring a luxury wedding good matter more than forcing Christians — who sell to gay customers, just not for a gay wedding — to violate their consciences.

One more:

So: if you’re going to do anything wedding-related in your business, you’ve got to offer it to same-sex couples. Judging by the Brush & Nib site, wedding invitations are a huge part of their business. Thus is another Christian business severely damaged by gay bullies out to punish the wicked — surely there are other places in Phoenix, and in this country, to get calligraphic wedding invitations — and the iron hand of the state. (To be fair, no gays sued Brush & Nib; the two young artists who own the business filed suit to get a clarifying ruling before they inadvertently transgressed the law, which would have cost them a ton of money.)

I await analysis by lawyers capable of reading expertly the appeals court’s reasoning here. To this layman’s eyes, today’s ruling by the Arizona court vindicates the conservative cynicism on Masterpiece Cakeshop — that the Christian cakeshop owner only won because the Colorado authorities had been outrageous jerks in their public statements about his case.

I see no reason to back off the belief that gays and their allies are going to seek to destroy the livelihoods of all Christians who fail to give them what they want. They are going to “punish the wicked,” as the gay megadonor Tim Gill vowed. Here are the two wicked young Christian women whose business the state has nearly destroyed on behalf of its gay citizens:

In January 2015, after first meeting at a Bible study where they learned about their mutual passions for art, two young women met at a North Phoenix Starbucks over tea and hot chocolate and hatched a plan to create and sell art together. They then quickly agreed to start a calligraphy and hand-painting business. One of these women – Joanna Duka – had already left her full-time marketing job. The other – Breanna Koski – had no job, had just moved to town, and had just gotten married. Neither one had ever started a business. They had little money. They had no business background. But they did have a passion – to use their God-given talents to create beautiful artwork for others. That passion produced Brush & Nib Studio, a for-profit art studio that creates hand-drawn invitations and paintings for weddings, businesses, and everyday moments.

As Christian artists, Joanna and Breanna had a simple goal for their studio: to recreate the beauty God placed all around us and to share that beauty with others. And this goal made it natural for Joanna and Breanna to focus on artwork for weddings, one of the most beautiful days in someone’s life.

But this wedding focus drove Joanna and Breanna straight into a problem. Phoenix law required Brush & Nib to create and speak according to Phoenix’s definition of marriage.

So now they know. They’re going to have to quit doing wedding announcements, or move to a part of the country that doesn’t require this of them. How long will that last? Probably about as long as it takes for an angry gay couple, Lambda Legal, the ACLU, or other usual suspects to find them and take it to court.

What, exactly, did Masterpiece Cake solve? A Christian cakeshop baker in Lakewood, Colorado, can refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding, but Christian artists in Phoenix can’t refuse to do wedding invitations to a gay wedding? How can that be? Is it only because the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was openly bigoted towards Christians, but the Arizona appeals court did not engage in that kind of rhetoric?

The Supreme Court is going to have to make a substantive ruling. Exactly as conservative cynics said.

Christians are going to have to get creative. I wonder if Brush & Nib can continue offering wedding invitations as a ministerial service of their local church. In other words, people who want their beautiful work for their wedding invitation can go to a local church and arrange somehow to get the Brush & Nib artists to do it for them under the aegis of the church. Not sure how they would get paid for that legally.