The U.S. Supreme Court gave a boost to advocates of religious freedom on Monday, ruling that a Colorado baker cannot be forced to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, in a case that involved marriage equality and protection from discrimination.
But the opinion was a narrow one, applying to the specific facts of this case only. It gave no hint as to how the court might decide future cases involving florists, bakers, photographers and other business owners who have cited religious and free-speech objections when refusing to serve gay and lesbian customers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 same-sex marriage decision.
In the 7-2 decision, the court said legal proceedings in Colorado had shown a hostility to the baker’s religious views. Monday’s ruling was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also wrote the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision.
Similar cases are now working their way through the lower courts.
“These disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” Kennedy wrote.
But the ruling, which came during Pride Month, gave little guidance to the lower courts about how to balance those competing interests.