The incident took only moments.
The journey through the Colorado legal process lasted years.
And then the Supreme Court took its own sweet time. Almost a year passed from the date the court was first asked to review a dispute between a gay couple and a baker who refused to make them a wedding cake and the justices’ announcement that they would do just that.
When the Supreme Court hears the case this fall, it has the potential to be a major decision worth the wait.
Scattered across the country, florists, bakers, photographers and others have claimed that being forced to offer their wedding services to same-sex couples violates their rights of religious liberty and free expression.
Courts have routinely turned down the business owners – as the Colorado Court of Appeals did to cake shop owner Jack C. Phillips in this case – saying that state anti-discrimination laws require businesses that are open to the public to treat all potential customers equally.
Phillips stopped making wedding cakes after the court decision, and the couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins, are now celebrating anniversaries instead of nuptials.
When interviewed last summer, as Phillips’s lawyers were asking the Supreme Court to get involved, the three men had already lived the case for years.
“Four years is a long time for something that lasted less than two minutes,” Mullins said. “Every step of the way here in Colorado, the courts and commissions have found that Jack Phillips violated Colorado law. We’d like to end with that still being the case.”
Said Phillips, “As a creative professional and a businessman, I shouldn’t have to give up my freedom – my religion – when I open a bakery.”