The United States is going through a period where civil rights for people are being challenged at every turn and sometimes those in opposition to those rights are successful. Take a look at Masterpiece cake shop in Lakewood, Colorado where a baker named Jack Phillips refused to provide services for a gay couple seeking a wedding cake for their wedding. Through my interviews with Jack himself and others pertaining to the topic you can see that the views on if someone can deny services based on the premise of sexual orientation, gender, and a person's religious beliefs are split. Some people believe that you should be able to deny anyone service based on the first amendment claims of free speech and free exercise of religion yet the opposition says that you should not due to this being discrimination in which Colorado has laws that prohibit this kind of discrimination.
Through many interviews and discussions with people directly related to this issue you can see a direct split in views and opinions on even their own rights. The first person interviewed was Jack himself by me in May before the case was decided by the Supreme Court, I asked several questions directed at his beliefs and opinions. Asking Jack in one the questions “Are you homophobic?” and him replying “I am not homophobic, I have several gay friends that I am close to and everyone is welcome into my shop regardless of who they are.” (INTERVIEW 1), when hearing this you can see that Jack thinks just because he associates himself with people who are gay doesn’t make him homophobic and justifies his beliefs and actions in relation to this case. Another question asked was “Why didn’t you just make the cake?” his reply was “Because it was in direct conflict with my beliefs and I could not consciously make a cake for something I do not believe in.” (INTERVIEW 1), this was a consistent reply that he had throughout the case he even talked on shows such as The View, CBN news, ABC news, EWTN, and even Fox New. Jack truly believes that making a cake goes directly against his beliefs and feels that he should not be forced to make any cakes that he does not agree with and denies being homophobic.
When Jack denied being homophobic I wanted to get a better understanding of the man, so I decided to interview someone that knew him very well. After looking around the area and contacting several people I interview a guy that was close friends with him for over 10 years named Mark Mead who was an Attorney for 15 plus years and helped consult Jack on the case. I decided to ask Mark a few questions related to Jack’s character and beliefs. I asked Mark “Would you say Jack is not homophobic?” and he replied “Jack is one of the most homophobic people I know, he does not support nor like gays.” , and another question saying “What do you think of Jack as a person” and he replied “Jack is a great man, but does not agree with homosexuality in any form and his beliefs are strong on that.” after hearing Mark say that my perspective on Jack changed, and not only for the reason that Mark said he was homophobic, but because Jack was using his rights against another person's rights.
Finally, my last person interviewed was a random person with some knowledge on the case, and wanted to give their view point on the two sides. Her name is Rachel, and knows a bit about the case, yet I choose to interview her due to her moderate stances on things. I asked Rachel several questions that centered around her opinions on the case and the first question I asked was “What do you think about the case?” and she replied “The baker has his rights and so does the gay couple, so it’s very hard to draw a line between the who is right or wrong because it’s not as clear as it should be.”, another question I asked was “how do you think this will affect future cases pertaining this same issue?” she replied “I feel like it will have an impact, but we will have to see what happens.”. As you can see the tone around the case is that nobody really knows how people will draw that fine line from denying services to people, and in that case will lead to discrimination on a level not seen since before the civil rights movement era.
The couple that was involved took the case to the civil rights commission and then the Supreme court of Colorado decided with the couple, yet Jack thought it was not a fair decision so he ended up taking it up the the highest land of the court and they decided 7-2 on the case citing that the commission was hostile to Jack’s religious beliefs. The couple said this in an interview with The Denver Post that “they would gladly go through the ordeal again and urged others to take up their fight for civil rights. (They also said they have no hard feelings toward Jack Phillips — “This has always been about a policy and not about a person.” (https://www.denverpost.com/2018/06/04/charlie-craig-david-mullins-whats-next/), the couple have also appeared on many talk shows and have given their view on the matter, yet the court decided to go with the Baker still.
I sit here on a plane from Providence to Denver pondering on why the world has gotten so ugly and it feels like I traveled to a world so distant yet seems so close. I started following politics at the age of nine which was eleven years ago. In those nine years I have saw the first black president in the history of our country, and I also saw gay marriage become legal which was outlawed for many years. One of the greatest and most important things I saw was the hate that is sowed within our society, the hate for people who are different from “them”, the hate that makes people scared to be who they are and the hate that makes people have anxiety of others. We can sit here and say the world is a beautiful place which I do agree at times it definitely is, and where we can all go hold hands and skip in a bed of red roses, but that is not the world we live in. Their is beauty in the ugly and we as a collective must sow the fear, hate and anxieties before we all feel that pursuit of happiness we were all promised.
How did we end up here? Well most people wouldn’t point the blame to one race, group or person, but here I am doing what I do best and that is opening my big mouth. We got here because we live in two different worlds, one world where people are free to be who they are without any limitations. This is the world I thought we were headed towards, but sadly I was wrong. I was wrong in the sense that I thought their was good in all people, but if you take back the layers you see people who have hate embedded in their DNA and the only way that hate is going to ever subside our great earth is by teaching people about love, acceptance, and tolerance for all who look and act different then you and to not group one persons actions to all the people in that group.
I woke up oneway and I saw the reality of the world I thought was becoming that utopia. The other world was my reality being where you have to conform to what people tell you to be, you are their shell that must obey to what their eyes accept. You are who they want you to be, a robot that is confined to those programmed ways. You must believe in what I say, and act a certain way or we will deem you weird and out of the ordinary. You are not one of us if you break free from the shackles we put you in.
“God. Believe in god. You are a sinner. God hates you. You are going to hell. I’d rather have my own son dead then to be different from me.”
These are the words that I think of when I think of this other world, and I replay them in my head because my entire life I have had these words thrown at me like dirty being splattered on a white wall that they said to never get dirty because that white wall looks better white.
I've lived and worked around this bakery since I graduated High School in 2015. Growing up in a conservative die hard catholic family I understand his side of the argument, but I also understand why he's wrong in what he did and what he is fighting for. He's trying to use his religion as an excuse to discriminate based on a belief that a man shall only sleep with a woman, and that is his belief and should be kept out of business public or private. This is not just a case for a baker that didn't want to bake a cake, but a much broader issue for rights for all.
Let's go into some of the reasons why this case is a huge issue and then go into why the case has such a significant impact on free speech, human rights and on the LGBTQ+ community. This case is not as absurd as it would seem in 2017, because the United States has been flipped upside down and there is a culture and race war going on. This case could go either way and undo decades of progress for gay rights and human rights. The case will have a significant impact on the rights businesses have and how they can choose to do business with whomever they might deem worthy of their product or services and that is wrong because when you have a public business you are choosing to open your doors to anybody coming in regardless to sex, sexuality, race and or appearance. That is the text book definition of discrimination. It also has a huge impact on gay rights and will open the door to more suppression of an already marginalized community.
Let's go into why this is such a big deal? well it's because our country is in a war against itself. It's the culture war of 2016 caused by many things and the flames fanned by different factors. It was sparked when Donald Trump started running for President. His rhetoric and pure disrespect of the presidency is what led to this internal war against ourselves. I'm not blaming it solely on Trump, but he was the sparks that lit the building on fire, there was race issues long before Trump but this is what gave the racists a mic to speak their hate and express it to the world. The Russians took an incompetent business man that would do their biding to take our weaknesses and use them against us, the Russians are the ones who controlled Trump and everyone around him to fan the flames to spread them throughout every aspect of our country which is showing up in cases like these. Don't fall for the bating, continue to push for rights for all, and continue to push for human dignity for everyone.
We are Americans, and we might have no always been the most civil or humane country but we have that American spirit in us to fight for what is right and continue to allow for Liberty and justice for all!
Growing up I always thought my country was the best, we were the beacon of hope and freedom, but as I grew up my eyes opened and I slowly realized that was just not true. We have fallen behind in allowing human dignity to be put on the back burner and allowed our worry of economic prosperity take the place before humanity. Before I go into a potential fix if possible, let's understand how we got where we are today. Before I start let me explain the meaning of the photo, the flag in the photo above is a spray painting project in art class that I did in senior year in high school, the spray painting I did was of the American flag crying it's colors, I was well aware of the direction our country was headed because I was well informed on the news and the apposition that the Obama administration had and the rise of nationalism in the US.
It all started with how we allowed corporations to dictate policy, these coroporations directly told our politicians how to think and act. They un-avoidably became the puppets of money dressed up in a golden package of false hope and happiness. The campaigns that these people ran were funded by the corporations that they represented and pandered to un-educated and ill-informed voters to vote for them. These type of people are what I call leaches, they are leaches from a mutated version of capitalism, they suck the weak dry and leave them to fend with what remains. We live in a country that will let the elderly, the disabled and most importantly the children suffer because of greed and corruption. Was it worth leaving millions of people struggling to feed their families for that 50 million dollar tax break to a corporation that is already worth a billion dollars? How these people sleep at night is beyond me.
A potential fix for all of this is to make it illegal for corporations to donate to political parties, we need to make it so funding is coming from the people and not the corporations that don't have the peoples best interest in mind. We need to make it so independents are able to get on that debate stage and let their thoughts flow in the minds of the American people and let them decide what they align with. A good example of this is how Senator Bernie Sanders ran his 2016 campaign, he ran his campaign based on the promise of weaving out corruption in politics by not taking donations from corporations and in terms thought for himself, he wasn't allowing himself to be a shell. We need to follow Senator Sanders ideology that money shouldn't be in politics and corporations shouldn't be dictating public opinion and policy. It baffles my mind on how nobody knows the cure to the sickness in this country or even wants to find that cure, we need start by curing the source of the diseases and that is this mutated form of capitalism and as long as we allow this to continue this mutation will continue and manifest into something dark and unworldly. We as a country have lost our direction and what we do in this moment will determine if the boat sinks or stays afloat to the destination our founders originally sailed towards.
We need to WAKE UP! because the foundation of our ship is sinking into the sea and there is sharks waiting to tear that sinking ship apart. WAKE UP AMERICA!