LAKEWOOD - A Colorado case to be heard by US Supreme Court next week could adjust the balance between gay rights and the rights of religious people who believe homosexuality to be sinful.
The case is literally a food fight. It began with a cake, but turned into a lot more.
The dispute happened five years ago in a small strip mall bakery in Lakewood called Masterpiece Cakeshop.
A couple walked in wanting a wedding cake.
That would have been fine with owner Jack Phillips, except the couple was two men.
"And I said, 'I'm sorry, I don't do cakes for same sex weddings,'" Phillips told 9NEWS at the time.
Phillips felt like making the wedding cake would be condoning marriage between two men.
"This is an event that goes against my faith," Phillips said.
To David Mullins and Charlie Craig, the couple, that sounded a lot like, "we don't serve your kind here."
"The way we were treated at Masterpiece cake shop was both illegal and wrong," Mullins said.
Colorado has what's called a "public accommodation" law.
It's the same law that bans restaurants from refusing to seat you because of the color of your skin, only Colorado's version also protects sexual orientation.
The state civil right's commission came down on the side of the couple.
And that decision is the subject of this lawsuit: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.
The cake shop lost at the state court of appeals.
The Colorado supreme court didn't want to hear it. They let that ruling stand.
But the US Supreme court is interested and took the case. Its decision could go beyond Colorado.
"About 20 states have similar laws," said Scott Skinner, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Colorado law school.
He says a ruling for the cake shop might strike down Colorado's law and others like it. However, a ruling against the shop would not force every state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"But it would be permitting them to do so," Skinner said.
Both sides have legal help from national interest groups.
The ACLU represents the couple's side.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious rights group, represents the cake shop.
The political leanings of the high court have not changed significantly since it ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marriage nationwide, leading some to speculate that the case could be uphill sledding for the cake shop.
But the legal question here is a different one.
The oral arguments start 8 a.m. Colorado time on Tuesday and then we could wait a while for a ruling.
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