Masterpiece Cakeshop Is Fighting for the First Amendment, Not Against Gay Marriage: New at Reason

A case about compeling someone to design a wedding cake is about free expression, not opposition to gay marriage.

David Harsanyi writes:

This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, the man who refused to create a specialty wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado in 2012. Yet the stories that dominate coverage distort the public's understanding of the case and its serious implications.

For one thing, no matter how many times people repeat it, the case isn't about discrimination or challenging gay marriage. But when the news first broke, USA Today, for example, tweeted, "The Supreme Court has agreed to reopen the national debate over same-sex marriage." The headline (and story) on the website was worse; it read, "Supreme Court will hear religious liberty challenge to gay weddings." Others similarly framed the case. (And, don't worry, "religious liberty" is almost always solidly ensconced inside quotation marks to indicate that social conservatives are just using it as a facade.)

There is an impulse to frame every issue as a clash between the tolerant and the closed-minded. But the Masterpiece case doesn't challenge, undermine or relitigate the issue of same-sex marriage in America. Gay marriage wasn't even legal in Colorado when this incident occurred.

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