Man sues for the right to marry his Macbook, arguing that if gays are
allowed to marry then so should other sexual minorities.
Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake, speaks to supporters after a
rally on the campus of a Christian college in Colorado. PHOTO: AP
Mr Sevier, who describes himself as “a former judge advocate and combat
veteran”, is persistent, filing claims not only in Florida but also
Washington | The US Supreme Court was set to hear arguments today in a
major case on whether certain businesses can refuse service to gay
couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, in a
dispute involving a conservative Christian baker in Colorado who
declined to make a wedding cake for two men.
The nine justices are due to hear an appeal brought by Jack Phillips, a
baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, of
a state court ruling that his refusal violated a Colorado
The Utah claim, which in reality is an attempt to throw a spanner in the
works of a gay marriage case in the federal court, runs to 50 pages.
In one of the biggest cases of the conservative-majority court’s
ninemonth term, the justices must decide whether the baker’s action was
constitutionally protected, meaning he can avoid punishment under the
Phillips contends that law violated his rights to freedom of speech and
free exercise of religion under the US Constitution’s First Amendment.
The Supreme Court arguments will focus on his free speech claim, based
on the idea that creating a custom cake is a form of free expression.
Mr Sevier argues that allowing gays to marry but denying him the same
right amounts to discrimination.
The couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, call the baker’s refusal a
simple case of unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The Supreme Court legalised gay marriage in a landmark 2015 ruling
written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, one of the court’s five
conservatives. The 81-yearold Kennedy, who has joined the court’s four
liberals in major decisions on issues such as abortion and gay rights,
could cast the deciding vote. Kennedy also is a strong proponent of free
If gays feel as if they are second class citizens, Mr Sevier argues then
“those of us in the real minority, who want to marry machines and
animals, certainly feel like third class citizens”.
The case highlights tensions between gay rights proponents and
conservative Christians opposing same-sex marriage.
A ruling favouring Phillips could open
thedoorforbusinessesthatoffercreative services to spurn gay couples by
invoking religious beliefs, as some wedding photographers, florists and
others already have done. Conservatives have filed other lawsuits also
seeking to limit thereachofthe2015gaymarriageruling.
Mr Sevier apparently sought a marriage licence for himself and his
“machine spouse”, but for some reason was denied.
The legal fight broke out in 2012 when Phillips told Mullins and Craig
that due to his Christian beliefs he would not be able to make a cake to
celebrate their wedding.
The two men married in Massachusetts but wanted to celebrate their
nuptials with friends in Colorado. At the time, Colorado allowed civil
unions but not marriage between same-sex couples.
Mr Sevier cites legal precedents around the world – including a case
where a woman married a dolphin and a Chinese man wed a cardboard cutout
The couple turned to the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a
complaint on their behalf, saying Phillips had violated Colorado state
law barring businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital
status or sexual orientation.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Phillips had violated
the law and ordered him to take remedial measures including staff
training and the filing of quarterly compliance reports. In August 2015,
the Colorado Court of Appeals also ruled against Phillips.
“Allowing my marriage to go forward will not adversely impact the
fertility rate any more or less than a same sex couples.”
The Colorado Supreme Court refused to hear the case, prompting Phillips
to appeals to the US Supreme Court.
The ACLU said Phillips’ legal team at the conservative Christian group
Alliance Defending Freedom is advocating for a ‘‘licence to
discriminate’’ that could have repercussions beyond gay rights.
“In considering the equal protection clause, there are no fewer policy
reasons for preventing man-machine couples from marrying than there are
for same-sex couples.”
‘‘I can’t emphasise enough how far sweeping the argument is both in
terms of what it is saying about the Constitution and who will be
affected,’’ ACLU lawyerLouiseMellingsaid. REUTERS
He said: “in fact, I married it with less risk, even if the marriage was
not successful, and we can avoid a heated argument when you divorce. “
Unfortunately for Mr Sevier, the courts in Florida and Utah, found his
legal arguments unpersuasive.