Barronelle Stutzman, great grandmother and Washington State florist, was prosecuted and could lose everything, simply for declining to create custom flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding. A similar law is about to be voted on in Helena, and your action is needed.
Montana is neighborly and welcoming – a great place to raise a family and to live out your faith.
But now, some legislators are pushing a bill that would punish people for their ideas and beliefs. This is a battle that needs the attention of all Montanans. A vote is possible on Friday, so your action is needed today!
The bill (House Bill 465) is known as a SOGI law because it offers special protections for “sexual orientation and gender identity” classes.
Do you remember Jack Phillips? He is the Colorado baker who recently won a Supreme Court case, after being prosecuted under a SOGI law for declining to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.
Do you remember Barronelle Stutzman? She is the florist in Washington State (pictured above) who is also being prosecuted under SOGI laws for declining to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. She, like Jack, is at grave risk of losing her home and business from fines and legal costs.
Over and over again, SOGI laws have been the leading tool used by the Left to attack religious freedom. And the gender identity component puts the privacy and safety of women and girls at risk by opening women’s bathrooms, showers, dressing rooms and other public accommodations to men.
This bill will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Friday morning. You can send a message to each of the committee members – urging them to vote NO – with just a click on our Action Center.
Please make your voice heard for freedom! Thanks for taking action and spreading the word!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
In association with our state ally, Montana Family Foundation
Jack Phillips isn’t running for any election this year, but he sure has a lot riding on the outcome of one of the most closely watched races in this 2018 midterm election.
You know Jack as the family man and bakery owner from Colorado who was punished by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for declining to create custom cakes that would violate his sincere Christian faith.
Thankfully, just this June, the U.S. Supreme Court decisively ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Jack’s rights—with even liberal justices on the Court ruling in Jack’s favor in the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. This hasn’t stopped the Commission from going after Jack again—this time for declining to create a cake celebrating a person’s “gender transition.”
While Jack is back in court defending his faith, Colorado voters have a decision to make that will impact Jack, other people of faith in Colorado, and ultimately the entire country. The decision in the Colorado Governor’s race is one of the key races in the country this November.
One of the candidates running for Colorado Governor is Jared Polis, an LGBT activist and liberal congressman who supports the Commission’s actions in targeting Jack for his faith. In fact, Polis has made supporting the Commission one of his key election platforms. And worse yet, as governor, Polis would have the power to appoint even more radical members to the Commission.
This means that things could get even worse for Jack and other people of faith in Colorado.
The problem is—most voters in Colorado don’t know that Polis supports how the Commission targeted Jack, or that other states have already looked at the Colorado Commission as an example in how to target their own people of faith!
We need your help today!
We are working to reach as many voters as possible with this video, revealing how Polis will make things worse for Jack and other people of faith.
Will you stand with Jack and help spread the word? Every $20 reaches 500 key voters in Colorado!
Standing with Jack,
President & CEO
P.S. Jared Polis is ahead in the polls right now…but only by 7 points! This means that people of faith in Colorado can make the difference in this election! Please give to make sure as many voters as possible in Colorado know to Stand With Jack this election!
Paid for by Family Policy Alliance Independent Expenditure Committee.
Not authorized by any candidate.
The most anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision of the year was released on Monday. The case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (CCRC) involved Jack Phillips, a faithful Christian, who was charged with violating Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act for politely declining to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Court’s answer to the legal question at the heart of the case—whether Colorado could force a business owner to make a product expressing a message that violated the business owner’s religious beliefs—might have been the most significant opinion in a generation. Instead, in a 7-2 opinion, the Court punted on that fundamental question and decided the case on other grounds—that, Jack, the cake baker in question, did not get a fair hearing before the CCRC.
While this result isn’t the sweeping affirmation of a business owner’s right to religious freedom we hoped for, it is still very good news. Jack won the case and the Court opined that the government was wrong to punish him for living consistent with his sincerely held religious beliefs.
There are several positive things to take away from the decision, and a few hints about challenges that remain.
The Court held that the CCRC unconstitutionally violated Jack’s constitutional right to freely exercise his beliefs when they (1) demonstrated clear hostility to Jack’s religious beliefs and (2) applied state law unfairly. The Court noted that the CCRC was openly hostile toward religion in their abusive and dismissive language when discussing Jack’s beliefs. Further, they applied Colorado’s anti-discrimination law differently in different cases, using their own subjective opinion to determine whether the claim in question was valid.
First, in his majority opinion, Justice Kennedy rebuked the CCRC that adjudicated Jack’s case for comparing his religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust, calling such rhetoric “clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection.” Sadly, this sort of rhetoric is regularly used to characterize advocates of religious freedom. We reject these repulsive comparisons and we are extremely pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has our back. In Jack’s case, the court ruled that “religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.”
Second, the Court affirmed the right of business owners to bring their religion with them to work. Justice Kennedy included the CCRC view “that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain” among the elements of a “clear and impermissible hostility” towards Jack’s faith.
Third, Justice Kennedy reminded us that the government doesn’t get to protect only the conscience rights it agrees with. His opinion directly criticized the different treatment Jack received before the CCRC when compared to the treatment of other bakers who declined to create cakes with messages to which they objected, including cakes with anti-gay marriage messages. In a concurring opinion, Justice Gorsuch exposed this inconsistency, stating, “the Commission allowed three other bakers to refuse a customer’s request that would have required them to violate their secular commitments. Yet it denied the same accommodation to Mr. Phillips [Jack] when he refused a customer’s request that would have required him to violate his religious beliefs.”
Where do we go from here?
Although this case represents a victory for Jack and people of all faiths, the Court left significant questions unanswered. In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy suggested that future challenges are not only likely, but that the outcome of such cases could very well be different. Consequently, we believe this case has set the table for state’s to take action and enact clear religious freedom protections for all their citizens.
Moving forward, New Mexico must take the necessary steps to preserve our fundamental right to religious freedom and conscience. We must also take seriously the threat to our freedoms posed by so-called “anti-discrimination” ordinances; by unelected, bureaucratic entities like Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission; and by the courts.
Let’s not forget what happened locally in 2006 when the New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Christian photographer, Elaine Huguenin, who respectfully turned down a request to photograph a same-sex wedding. In a concurring opinion, former-Justice Richard Bosson acknowledged that the New Mexico Supreme Court was compelling Elaine and her husband to “compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.” Even so, Justice Bosson infamously went on to state that this was the “price of citizenship” in New Mexico.
Thankfully, on Monday, 7 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices disagreed.
Rest assured, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico will not grow weary in our defense of your right to live and work in accordance with your faith. However, to be successful, we need you to PRAY, VOTE, SPEAK UP, and GIVE.
- We need you to PRAY for our ministry and that God will raise up godly men and women to lead our state.
- We need you to VOTE this November for pro-religious freedom candidates who will help us strengthen the law to protect people of all faiths, including business owners like Jack and Elaine.
- We need you to SPEAK UP and voice your support for religious freedom legislation when it comes before the New Mexico Legislature.
- And we need you to GIVE to help support our efforts to mobilize people of faith, train leaders, and represent your values in Santa Fe and throughout the state. So, if you are not already supporting us financially, can we count on you to send a gift today? If so, please click here and help us make a difference in New Mexico.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
President and Executive Director
By Stephanie Curry, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance®
The long awaited Supreme Court opinion in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case was handed down yesterday: 7-2 in favor of Jack Phillips and his business, Masterpiece Cakeshop. Family Policy Alliance congratulates Jack Phillips and his legal team with our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom on their long-awaited victory!
Jack is the Colorado cake artist who declined to create a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2012. Jack, a devout Christian, treats his employees with faithful intentionality. He closes on Sundays, pays his employees a livable wage, and even loans them money when needed. He puts the same thoughtful intentionality into his business, meeting personally with couples and often attending the weddings and receptions for which he makes custom cakes. In line with his faith, he declines to design baked goods with Halloween themes, nudity, alcohol or for same-sex weddings.
As you’ve heard, Craig and David Mullins sued Jack for declining to make them a same-sex wedding cake. The Mullins sued under Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Law, which allows “sexual orientation” to be a protected class, like race or religion. Not only does this law invent a new protected class with inadequate protections for religious freedom, but the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has also been using its authority under the law to target and discriminate against people of faith. The very decision-makers who are supposed to identify and prevent discrimination, are themselves engaged in blatant and hostile discrimination against Jack Phillips and his religious beliefs.
In their opinion yesterday, the Supreme Court harshly admonished the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the Colorado Court of Appeals for their unconstitutional and discriminatory treatment of Jack’s religious beliefs. In the end, a case that, according to the media and groups like the ACLU, was about discrimination against the LGBTQ community was actually about discrimination against people of faith.
The Court was crystal clear that discrimination against religious beliefs would not be tolerated when performed by the government, especially when the government has a constitutional duty to apply its laws neutrally towards everyone.
There are still many lessons to be gleaned from the Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion, but the most important is that Jack should not have had to go to Court to defend his constitutional right to religious freedom in the first place. The Colorado Legislature should have reined in the Commission’s power and enacted strong laws to protect religious freedom for all its citizens, including Jack.
This means it is critical for the family of believers to work together to elect legislators who will stand strong for religious freedom in every state. It is the responsibility of our elected leaders to pass good laws clarifying that people of faith are welcome in every state, including business owners like Jack. As Justice Gorsuch eloquently stated in his concurrence, “The Constitution protects not just popular religious exercises from the condemnation of civil authorities. It protects them all.”
No doubt you heard about the travesty of justice that happened to Jack Phillips, a fellow Coloradan and small business owner who is pictured above. The state of Colorado punished him for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, and of course his case is pending right now in the U.S. Supreme Court.
But where did that case even come from? It was an enforcement action by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, an unelected body that badly needs reforming.
Radical, agenda-driven leftists have used the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to penalize Christian business owners. Even Justice Kennedy, author of the decision to legalize gay marriage nationally, pointed out that the Commission has gone too far in their religious bigotry.
The Colorado Senate, in a bi-partisan and unanimous vote, approved changes to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that provided greater accountability, fairness, and equality for all Coloradans. But the Speaker of the House, Denver Democrat Crisanta Duran, is doing all she can to protect the unjust and unfair status quo.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission should serve all Coloradans, and not be a tool to drive a particular leftist agenda that harms people of faith.
Please contact your State Senator and Representative and ask them to support the senate amendments to safeguard your freedoms. It only takes a few moments on our Action Center.
The last day of the Legislature is Wednesday, so please take action right away, and then pass this along to others. Thank you for making your voice heard!
The Family Policy Alliance Team
Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom
By Autumn Leva, Director of Policy & Communications
Jack is a small business owner from Colorado. He’s a cake artist who has loved art all his life. And, he’s a Christian who wants to live out his faith in the way he runs his business—and every aspect of his life. You could be Jack. I could be Jack.
Today, Jack is at the Supreme Court defending his freedom and faith, and the decision in his case will likely be the most anticipated Court ruling in the summer of 2018—similar to the ruling on Obamacare in 2012, the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case in 2014, and the decision on same-sex marriage in the Obergefell case in 2015.
Jack has been defending these rights ever since he told a same-sex couple he couldn’t design their wedding cake. The couple filed a complaint against him with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, forcing Jack to defend his faith, freedom, art and family business in a long legal battle.
But, what most people don’t know about this case is why Jack is in Court in the first place.
Here are the top 3 reasons:
- Colorado’s Legislators Passed a Bad Law.
The law putting at risk Jack’s religious and artistic freedom was passed by Colorado legislators in 2008. Simply put, the law adds the classifications of “Sexual Orientation” and “Gender Identity” to the state’s civil rights code, giving those classifications the same level of protection as race, disability, and national origin. This is often called a “SOGI” law.
When Colorado legislators were debating this law, they received lots of warnings from groups like Focus on the Family and Family Policy Alliance (under its former name, Focus on the Family Action) that the law would harm freedom for all Coloradans. But, the majority of Colorado legislators and then-Governor Ritter decided to sacrifice religious and artistic freedom for the sake of a progressive agenda—harming family businesses like Jack’s.
- Colorado’s Liberal Civil Rights Commission Failed to Protect Religious & Artistic Freedom.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission determined that Jack’s decision to follow his conscience by not designing a same-sex wedding cake was unlawful, even though a person’s “religion” is a protected classification in Colorado, freedom of religion and expression are protected in the Colorado Constitution, and freedom of religion and expression are protected in the United States Constitution.
The liberal Commission ordered Jack to design all wedding cakes (or stop designing them altogether, losing 40% of his business), to educate his staff that living by his beliefs was wrong, and to report to the state government every time he declined a business order for a cake.
Does this seem outrageous to you? The Colorado Civil Rights Commissions, like similar bodies in most states, is made up of members who aren’t even elected by you –the voters—yet they have the power to pick and choose which civil rights to protect (or fail to protect), to require business owners to “educate” their employees on how living out their faith is wrong, and to dictate even which cake orders to fill.
- Colorado’s Legislators Didn’t Protect Jack.
Colorado legislators could’ve passed a law to protect Jack—and other business owners and artists in the state like him. They’ve had an opportunity every year since the SOGI law passed in 2008 to clarify that religious and artistic freedom are protected in Colorado.
In fact, that’s what they should be doing, rather than standing by while family businesses are harmed in the state. The legislative body is charged with making laws—not the judiciary. Using their law-making power (and taxpayer resources) to protect freedom should be lawmakers’ top priority.
Instead, Jack was forced to turn to the courts to protect his freedom through a long legal process where nine Justices, primarily Justice Kennedy, will decide how he can run his business in his state.
And here’s why Jack’s story matters to every family:
Maybe you’re thinking: Yes, I could be Jack, but my state would never do what Colorado did.
Check out our map below.
- States in blue are states with laws already in effect similar to the law that harmed Jack.
- States in red are states where liberal activists would love to pass a SOGI law and claim a victory in 2018. In fact, in many of those states, a SOGI bill like the one that harmed Jack was introduced at the Capitol this year!
In other words, if you live in a state marked in blue or red, you or your loved ones could face a situation similar to Jack’s because of your faith.
And what about Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission with unelected members who aren’t accountable to the public? Yes, most states have a similar administrative body, and they almost always lean liberal—meaning they’ll tend to favor a liberal agenda over protecting religious and artistic freedoms.
With liberal activists fighting hard to influence state lawmakers and administrative bodies like Civil Rights Commissions, families in most states may see their lawmakers passing bad laws or failing to protect freedom and families.
So what can we do about it together?
My team and I at Family Policy Alliance don’t believe you, me, Jack, or anyone else should have to go to court to protect their freedoms. The first stop for protecting freedom should always be with the people we elect to represent us and pass good laws—whether at the local school board level, in the state government, or at the U.S. Capitol in D.C.
So, we invite you to partner with us as we work with our state allies in 2018 to (1) advocate for legislators to pass good laws that protect freedom for people like you, me and Jack when most state legislatures get back to business in January; and (2) elect the right people who will pass good laws that protect freedom in November.
You can help in two ways right now.
- Know your state & work together!
We work hard to know what’s going on in each state that will impact freedom and your family. We’re making more maps like the one above to help you know where your state is at on each issue, and we work with our local ally in your state. But, we can’t send you special alerts about your state and if your legislators are trying to pass a SOGI law like the one that harmed Jack without knowing your district. Please take a moment to enter your zip code. And, passing laws that protect freedom and holding legislators accountable for the laws they pass needs the help of the whole Body of Christ. Please encourage your friends in your state (or in other states) to know their own state & enter their zip codes as well.
- Prepare for 2018!
As we prepare for 2018, please support Family Policy Alliance with a year-end gift! Your partnership will equip families to understand each state’s laws and hold each state’s lawmakers accountable for protecting freedom. Thank you in advance!
In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard shares 14 things that are unassailably true about the NFL protest, the First Amendment and Mr. Trump.
Whether you agree or disagree with the players who are kneeling during the anthem, whether you think President Trump’s coarse language in saying they should all be fired was spot on or not fitting for a president, you’ll want to consider this sharp opinion on how all of this should play out in a free society.
And most of all, what this says about some other people who are fighting for the right to protest, but who are not getting nearly as much attention.
Thank you for sharing Stoplight with your friends.
A Christian cake-shop owner turned down a request to create a custom cake for a same-sex ceremony. He’s been in court ever since, and the Supreme Court is about to hear his case.
What are the best arguments a Christian conservative can make in favor of Jack Phillip’s choice? Family Policy Alliance and our allied state-based groups have signed onto a legal document offering the high court a compelling case for religious freedom.
Stephanie Curry, our manager of public policy, shares how you can best answer the questions raised by those who take the other side of the issue.
Read the amicus brief we sent to the Supreme Court.
From playgrounds to wedding cakes to something called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” religious freedom has been winning lately in the courts.
Stuart Shepard asks Ashley Shaw, Family Policy Alliance’s new legal expert, to explain the nuances of these court actions and how they impact Christians across America.