A high profile Supreme Court case that could have implications for all retailers and service providers kicked off Tuesday with opening arguments centered on a question: What constitutes an artist and artistic expression?
The case revolves around the refusal of a baker, Jack Phillips, to create a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, a same-sex couple from Lakewood, Colorado.
“Phillips, owner of the Denver-area Masterpiece Cakeshop, claims his First Amendment right of free speech and religion exempts him from the state’s anti-discrimination law,” reports NPR’s Nina Totenberg. “To Colorado, however, he is a retailer and is barred from discriminating based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.” Tuesday’s argument opened with “a series of hypotheticals posed by the court’s liberal justices. The questions were aimed at Phillips’ claim that baking a cake for a same-sex wedding would unconstitutionally compel him to speak as an artist and cake creator on behalf of same-sex marriage, which he opposes,” according to Totenberg.
A decision is expected in June.
Society of American Florists members have weighed in on the controversy in the past.
Jo Buttram AAF, AMF, PCF, of Shirley’s Flowers in Rogers, Arkansas, told EBrief editors two years ago that she supported same-sex marriage as a civil rights cause.
“Love is a human emotion not a political statement,” she said. “I cannot imagine, as a married women, someone telling me I do not have the right to love or marry whomever I want to, much less having someone refuse to do my wedding flowers because of whom I love.”
In New York, Nic Faitos of Starbright Floral Design, has blogged about the issue; in 2012, he also joined former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on stage for a press event centered on the positive economic impact of same-sex weddings on the city and its small businesses.
“You have to be crazy on so many levels to refuse to provide flowers to a customer, period,” Faitos said. “Sensitivities of any kind — political, religious, etc. — have no place in a business environment … What is most important for all to know is that they are welcome at Starbright Floral Design as we would be honored to help them celebrate their union regardless of persuasion, orientation or any other word that ends in ‘ion.’”