Being Gay and Not Getting A Piece of The Cake

It has been a few years since Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, presented his argument at the Colorado Court of Appeals. As stated in the introduction, Philips refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple, as he felt that baking it would infringe on his personal faith.

Philips attempted to defend himself with an analogy. He claimed that “an African American cake designer could refuse to create a cake with a white-supremacist message for the Aryan Nations church.” So, why shouldn’t he be able to deny a cake for a gay couple?

His analogy was fundamentally unfair; an African-American cake artist would deny creating a cake with a white-supremacist message for anyone. They would deny creating this cake for the Aryan Nations church, for a gay couple, for a Muslim, or for another African-American. The African-American cake artist would refuse to make this cake no matter who ordered it because she is refusing the message on the cake, rather than the person requesting such a cake.

Mr. Phillips, however, denies wedding cakes only for gay people. He denies a regularly-provided service, regardless of the message displayed, for a specific class of people. That is why Mr. Phillips’s conduct was deemed unconstitutional, violating the 14th amendment, and is considered discrimination.

For me, I am relying on this Supreme Court case decision. I’m relying on this decision because (1) I’m gay, and (2) I’ve been turned away from businesses far too many times because of it. I’ve been turned away from restaurants and from athletic stores. I’ve been turned away from farmer’s markets. I’ve even been turned away from flower shops.

When I shared stories of being turned away from businesses to some of my friends while in high school, they gave me a small piece of advice: instead of being outraged at the business, I should have just gone somewhere else to buy food or buy flowers — somewhere else that tolerated gay people. Apparently, I was worth being refused.

Even among the most understanding friends, they told me that if I shared my story enough, maybe people would collectively agree that they should stop supporting these businesses — things could sort out on their own, as long as I just “wait.”

But gay people like me have been told to wait for centuries. In the 1960s, when we asked for homosexuality to be decriminalized in America, we were told to wait. We waited until 2003 for a Supreme Court case to liberate us. When we asked to serve openly in our country’s military — a request that embodied patriotism, altruism, and national pride — we were told to wait. We waited until 2011 for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to finally be struck down. When we asked to be married — which is, by far, the most profound union formed between two people —  we were told to wait. We waited until 2015 for the Supreme Court to notice our pleas.

In modern-day America, in 2017 — when we ask for equal treatment by businesses, we are told to wait and find another business to serve us.

Not anymore. I’m done waiting. I want justice now. I will no longer wait for the government to dignify me. I demand dignity.

Charlie Craig, David Mullins, and I are not asking for much. We only ask for basic respect from businesses, and we ask for “equal protection” in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants us that right.

We deserve to be served just like everyone else. We are not threatening people with sincere religious convictions because the most we are doing is existing. We at least deserve to exist. Please don’t take that away from us.

About the Author

Matthew Cunningham
Student, athlete, writer, political nerd, and patriarchy smasher