Gay grooms and a Colorado baker: Why don't reporters ask about motives anymore?

It is becoming another day, another lawsuit, now that homosexual couples are turning the wedding industry upside down by suing bakers, photographers, florists, et al., who won’t make gay-themed materials. In this post Obergefell era, we shall be seeing more news like what broke late on Monday.

The below article from the Denver Post is fairly straight forward, although there’s questions that never get posed.

Your GetReligionistas have been waiting for the shoe to drop for some time in the Jack Phillips case, which has been wending its way through the courts for four years. As we’ve reported previously, a lot of the problem is in the framing. What gets lost in the shuffle is this: People are refusing to take part in creating a type of message, linked to a specific kind of rite, not refusing all commerce with a type of person.

First, the court decision:

The Colorado Supreme Court will not hear the case of a Lakewood baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
That decision effectively upholds a ruling by the Colorado Court of Appeals that found Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips cannot cite his religious beliefs or free-speech rights in refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Phillips' attorneys, who asked the state's high court to hear the case, said they are "evaluating all legal options."
If Phillips' attorneys continue to pursue the case, one option may be asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.

And then, the background:

In 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins were turned away by Phillips while trying to buy a custom wedding cake. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and wanted a cake to celebrate in Colorado.
Phillips told the couple he would not make them a wedding cake because of his religious beliefs.
"We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and discriminate against them," Ria Tabacco Mar, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

I know the reporter threw the story together in a hurry, but he did not emphasize how people are being compelled to conform to a type of message. Note that this press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom (the organization handling Phillips’ case in court) talks about the order handed down by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission commanding the baker to make gay-themed wedding cakes.

If you wish to refresh your memory, this piece in the Daily Signal best describes the brief interaction that Phillips had with these two men back in 2012.

One of the more cogent pieces I found about the decision was from the Washington Blade whose reporter had the best explanation I saw of the legal background behind Monday’s announcement.

One thing I don’t see mentioned is whether there is some kind of punitive financial judgment coming down on this baker as there has been in similar cases across the country. We’re talking about the $136,000+ that an Oregon baker had to pay to an aggrieved lesbian couple.

Also notice a more recent story about an Illinois bed-and-breakfast that got fined $80,000 for refusing to host a civil-union ceremony on their property. Like all the folks cited in this column, the defendants claimed their Christian faith forbade them to cooperate with same-sex ceremonies. This older New York Times piece explains the religious issues involved.

What do these two stories have in common? For starters, it's the reporters' refusal to ask anything about the motives of those bringing the lawsuits.

What brought up a red flag for me in the B&B story was a simple search of gay-friendly lodgings in Illinois that could have met the needs of the couple wanting the civil union ceremony. But no, they only wanted their festivities at the one place that didn’t want to host the event and of course they sued. And like the plaintiffs in the above-mentioned Oregon case, they alleged thousands of dollars of emotional distress and harm.

Am I the only person seeing a pattern here? Go find a business that doesn’t believe in gay weddings, tell them you want them to bake you a cake/supply you with flowers or host your ceremony and when they say no, then sue them out of existence? A lot of monetary judgments haven’t come down yet because the cases haven’t been resolved, but there’s obviously gold in them hills.

Why aren’t journalists asking similar questions to mine? Why isn’t anyone pointing out the other nearby businesses that desire to accommodate these couples? Is anyone drawing up a spreadsheet of all the lawsuits in progress, of all the people forced out of business and of all the fines that have been levied?

What about bakeries owned by people who belong to other religions that are also opposed to gay marriage? The Washington Times did a story a year ago about Muslim bakeries in the Detroit area that likewise don’t want to cater gay weddings but which have stayed under the radar. Why is the Times the only newspaper to ask this question?

I see a lot of painting by the numbers, a lot of writing according to a formula and a lot of not wanting to look under certain rocks. There are stories out there, folks, but they may be stories that don’t line up with your personal views or those of your editor. There was a time when reporters went after such stories nonetheless. Those days may be gone.

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