SCOTUS agrees with Baker in 7-2 decision

U.S. Supreme Court backs Christian baker who rebuffed gay couple

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory on narrow grounds to a Colorado baker who refused based on his Christian beliefs to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, stopping short of setting a major precedent allowing people to claim religious exemptions from anti-discrimination laws.

The justices, in a 7-2 decision, said the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an impermissible hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.

The court concluded that the commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

But the justices did not issue a definitive ruling on the circumstances under which people can seek exemptions from anti-discrimination laws based on religion. The decision also did not address important claims raised in the case including whether baking a cake is a kind of expressive act protected by the Constitution’s free speech guarantee.

Two of the court’s four liberals, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, joined the five conservative justices in the ruling authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also wrote the landmark 2015 decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

The baker case became a cultural flashpoint in the United States, underscoring the tensions between gay rights proponents and conservative Christians.

Both sides claimed a measure of victory. The couple’s supporters noted that the ruling embraced the importance of gay rights and made it clear that businesses open to the public must serve everyone. The baker’s lawyers said the ruling emphasized that the government must respect religious beliefs.

“Our society has come to the recognition that gay persons and gay couples cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” Kennedy wrote.

But Kennedy said the state commission’s hostility toward religion “was inconsistent with the First Amendment’s guarantee that our laws be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.”

In one exchange at a 2014 hearing before the commission cited by Kennedy, former commissioner Diann Rice said that “freedom of religion, and religion, has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust.”

Kennedy said the commission ruled the opposite way in three cases brought against bakers in which the business owners refused to bake cakes containing messages that demeaned gay people or same-sex marriage.

Republican President Donald Trump’s administration, which intervened in the case in support of Phillips, welcomed the ruling. “The First Amendment prohibits governments from discriminating against citizens on the basis of religious beliefs,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.


The decision made it clear that even if the court ultimately rules in a future case that bakers or other businesses that sell creative products such as florists and wedding photographers can avoid punishment under anti-discrimination laws, most businesses open to the public would have no such defense.

Kennedy wrote that any ruling in favor of creative professionals must be “sufficiently constrained, lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying ‘no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,’ something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.”

Of the 50 states, 21 including Colorado have anti-discrimination laws protecting gay people.

The case marked a test for Kennedy, who has authored significant rulings that advanced gay rights but also is a strong advocate for free speech rights and religious freedom.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that 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.

Mullins and Craig were planning their wedding in Massachusetts in 2012 and wanted the cake for a reception in Colorado, where gay marriage was not yet legal. During a brief encounter at Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburb of Lakewood, the baker politely but firmly refused, leaving the couple distraught.

They filed a successful complaint with the state commission, the first step in the six-year-old legal battle. State courts sided with the couple, prompting Phillips to appeal to the top U.S. court.

“Today’s decision means our fight against discrimination and unfair treatment will continue,” the couple, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. “We have always believed that in America, you should not be turned away from a business open to the public because of who you are.”

Mullins and Craig said Phillips was using his Christian faith as pretext for unlawful discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Phillips and others like him who believe that gay marriage is inconsistent with their Christian beliefs have said they should not be required to effectively endorse the practice.

“Government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society, yet the state of Colorado was openly antagonistic toward Jack’s religious beliefs about marriage. The court was right to condemn that,” said lawyer Kristen Waggoner of the conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Phillips.

Phillips himself was not available for comment.

The litigation, along with similar cases around the country, is part of a conservative Christian backlash to the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling.

The court will soon have the opportunity to signal its approach to handling similar cases. The justices on Thursday are set to consider whether to hear an appeal filed by a flower shop owner in Washington state who refused to create an arrangement to celebrate a gay wedding based on her Christian beliefs.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham

Women of Media and Their Influence on Social Structure

Women of Media and Their Influence on Social Structure
Their influence on the social structure
Race, Gender and Class in Media
USF St Petersburg
Anna Liisa Covell
June 24, 2010

Women of Media and Their Influence on Social Structure

The Roaring 20’s marked the beginning of a movement for social change with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Women were finally given the opportunity to vote after nearly two decades of protests through the Women’s Suffrage Movement – a movement that universally swept the globe (Exploring Constitutional Conflicts). In 1928, a group of Women Jurists in Frances formed a non-governmental organization (NGO) to protect women from discrimination and human rights abuse (Women’s Rights Law). That same year, the suffrage movement prevailed in Britain to make men and women equal (Scholastic).

American media began to recognize the contribution women made to society in the 1920’s by offering career advancements. But the transition was slow to include females in any primary roles of media. There were only a few positions of authority open to women in the early years of radio. As time progressed, women began tapping on the glass ceiling. The 1960’s was the springboard for women’s empowerment in the job market which included the media. Modern day women are still focusing on society’s responsibility for equal access in media roles (Donna Allen).

The founder of NBC radio was the first to allow a woman into a position of authority. David Sarnoff promoted Bertha Brainard to program manager of NBC Radio Network in 1928. Sarnoff gave Brainard free reign to fill the airwaves with quality programming – programming that included shows like the Rudy Vallee Hour and The Goldbergs, the first family sitcom on radio. She also introduced the Metropolitan Opera to her radio listeners which is still on the airwaves today. Brainard focused her attention on quality programming with women’s interests in mind (The Paley Center).

Brainard followed her instincts throughout her career to sign quality talent. Using her knowledge as a former theater critic, she produced programming that appealed to women – programming like the Rudy Vallee Hour. Her keen instinct for attracting the female listening audience was her signature trademark – one she proudly wrote about in the New York Times (The Paley Center).

As chairwoman of NBC’s programming board in 1937, Brainard commanded one of the highest salaries in radio. Her success didn’t come without criticism (The Paley Center). Major newspapers ran stories about her life style that emphasized the manner of her dress, the color of her hair, and her petite figure. Her descriptive features were publicized in a New York Times story titled “Woman Builds High Place in Organizing Air Programs” in 1939. The story also included personal information about her penthouse living arrangement with her sister in New York (Women in Communication).

Brainard’s instincts paid off in her radio career. She understood that women did not care for the mechanical aspects of radio, but were attracted to the media when they began to enjoy the programming offered by Brainard (The Paley Center). She left NBC in 1946 to get married and died later that year after suffering a fatal heart attack (Women in Communication).

In the years following WWII, the media was completely dominated by males. In the 1950’s, news stories were framed though the eyes of men. Women were discriminated in the workplace and in the educational realm of society. They didn’t have the ability to own independent news media outlets to convey their message. They were stereotyped as homemakers – homemakers who didn’t have an independent source to air their perspectives in the public arena. Hegemony existed with male-only media outlet ownership. (Donna Allen).

Everything began to change in the 1960’s when television came into the American home. The Civil Rights Movement was a significant factor for equal rights – equal rights for women and minorities. Male hegemony of mass communication began to be challenged by women. President John F. Kennedy’s appointment of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1963 was instrumental to highlight the discrimination women faced in the media (Donna Allen).

Women marched forward even faster with the advent of the birth control pill. Gender roles began to balance out. The revolutionary years of the 1960’s saw women picketing bare-breasted. They burned their bras in public to smash their stereotyped image (Sanford). It was a generation in conflict. The women’s movement took center stage right beside the civil rights movement. Women finally had the choice to determine the course of their life, without being saddled with unwanted pregnancies to inhibit their careers (Gibbs).

The ownership of media outlets began to change in the 1970’s when women challenged the licenses of male-only broadcast stations with the FCC. Equality was demanded though the women’s Media Accountability Movement – a movement that established independent outlets for women to underscore stereotyping and sex discrimination through their own mass media (Donna Allen).

Women pushed for media accountability. The Media Accountability System (M*A*S) was formed by women in the United States for oversight of media resources – resources needed to highlight the diverse interests in the country. M*A*S distrusted the hegemonic mass media dominated by males. Women argued that men had been hostile in their description of females in all media forms – forms that included unflattering feminine descriptions in school books, history, art and music. Women fought against these male media outlets for their personal dignity. They resented being depicted as having an inferior intelligence to their male-counterpart (Donna Allen).

Women picketed major media organizations by conducting sit-ins as a form of protest against discrimination. They barged into stockholder meetings to demand equal air-time for women in broadcasting. CBS was one of their targets. The gender-specific practices of hegemonic male media outlets were met with lawsuits filed by women demanding accountability in hiring. (Donna Allen).

In 1972, the FCC released a report that outlined prior discriminatory practices against women and minorities. The report was based on an Equal Employment Opportunity inquiry to the commission. The FCC’s determination made it possible for women to gain a foothold in the media with new rules regarding equal opportunity in hiring practices (FCC). Later that year in Chicago, Jane Pauley was asked to join the staff of WMAQ-TV (DePauw University).

Pauley described her start in broadcasting as being in the right place at the right time. Three years after she began her broadcast career in Chicago, she was invited to co-host the Today Show – the first female co-host for NBC. As a pioneer in broadcast media, Pauley interviewed the first female astronaut, the first female Indy 500 driver, and the first woman on the presidential nominating ticket – candidate Geraldine Ferraro (DePauw University).

The broadcast image of women in the media began to change. Female broadcasters portrayed the image of working women – women who were able to hold down jobs and still be housewives and mothers. Pauley came to work while she was pregnant with twins and made it look easy for her viewing audience. Previously, women’s pregnancies had been prohibited from being broadcast on television. Just by acting naturally, Pauley was able to show her audience a woman’s perspective on life (DePauw University). The male-only media was being infiltrated by a realistic depiction of women which gave a more balanced image of society.

The M*A*S served to protect and promote the rights of women. Their committee determined the importance of having a public platform to air gender-related issues critical to promote democracy within society. Women had the right to know about issues – especially issues that directly affected them. The M*A*S even brought domestic violence out of the shadows.

Health-related problems associated with the female body were a major focus of M*A*S to equalize the hegemonic male media. The disturbing statistics of death and injury from the use of a contraceptive device known as Dalkan Shield opened women’s eyes. Women had needed the media to alert them of health risks related to this device. But the male-dominated media only mentioned the deadly device in the business section. Women were not told about the trauma caused by using the Dalkan Shield until it was too late (Donna Allen).

The age of women broadcasters became a factor in 1989 when Pauley was replaced by the much younger Deborah Norville. The NBC audience quickly made their opinion known about the replacement of Pauley. NBC’s Today show’s ratings dropped – dropped, that is, until they hired Katie Couric in 1991 to replace Norville (Soylent Communications). This age-related replacement of Pauley was rated as one of television’s 25 biggest blunders (Futon Critic).

As the co-host of the Today show, Couric’s public image mirrored her family life. Her pregnancy in 1995 became a topic of discussion. When her husband died of colon cancer in 1998, the viewers mourned with her. Couric urged her viewers to get themselves checked while she underwent an on-air colonoscopy (Soylent Communications).

In 2006, Couric broke through the glass ceiling to become the nightly anchor on CBS News to replace Bob Schieffer. She is the first female in media history to go solo as a prime-time anchor without having a man sit at her side (Soylent Communications). She commands one of the highest salaries for a broadcast anchor which is estimated at $15 million-a-year (Business Insider).

Over the last 82 years, women have fought to ensure a more equal representation of society through journalism. The advancement of equality in America’s society was a slow process that began with the Women’s Suffrage Movement (Exploring Constitutional Conflicts). The Women’s Movement of the 1960’s esculated equal rights to the forefront of society (Donna Allen).

Women in media have fought hard to win concessions – concessions to make media outlets recognize the needs of everyone in society. They have fought for equal access with media because democracy demands on it. Women have found their voice to speak for themselves. With this new voice they have focused on society’s responsibility – a responsibility to understand that society is fluid and to always recognize the needs of women and minorities for equality (Donna Allen).

Business Insider. Katier Couric’s Salary; 03 Feb. 2010.

DePauw University. Pioneer Broadcast Journalist Jane Pauley; 17 April 2009.

Donna Allen, PH.D. Media Accountability., 1990.
Exploring Constitutional Conflicts.

FCC. FCC 36 F.C.C.2d 515; 28 July 1972.

Futon Critic. 25 Biggest TV Blunders; 02 March 2010.

Gibbs, Nancy. Time magazine: Love, Sex, Freedom and the Paradox of the Pill. 3 May 2010.

Sanford. Sanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy; 31 October 2004.


Soylent Communications. NNDB Tracking the World; 2010.

The Paley Center. Bertha Brainard, Radio Executive;

Women in Communication. Bertha Brainard: Breaking Broadcast Boundaries;

Women’s Rights Law.