Religious Freedom

Supreme Court will decide whether a bakery must sell wedding cake to a same-sex couple as required by Colorado public accommodations law

On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court took certiorari in this case under the name, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colo. Civil Rights Comm'n. (No. 16-111).

The Colorado Court of Appeals has affirmed the Civil Rights Division's that a bakery must sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples if they would ordinarily do so to male-female couples....

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Supreme Court finds fundamental liberty and equality interests in extending right to marry to same-sex couples

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges, — U.S. — (2015), that the Constitution’s due process clause protects liberty interests that include personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy and that those include the right to marry, including someone of the same sex. The Court also held that it violates equal protection of the laws to allow male-female couples to marry but to deny that right to same-sex couples. For the same reasons, states must recognize same-sex marriages validly...

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Photography business cannot discriminate against same-sex couples

The Supreme Court of New Mexico has held that the state public accommodations law applies to a photography business that offers its services to the public. Because that law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, the business could not lawfully refuse to take pictures at a same-sex commitment ceremony because of the owner's religious beliefs. Elane Photography v Willock, — P.3d — (N.M. 2013). The state public accommodations law does not violate the owner's free speech rights since...

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Section 3 of DOMA struck down

Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 1 U.S.C. §7, Pub. L. No. 104-199, §3, 110 Stat. 2419, passed in 1996, denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages. This meant, for example, that for such purposes as calculating federal income tax, same-sex couples were not recognized as married and entitled to the tax advantages (and disadvantages) of marriage even if they were validly married under state law. A same-sex couple validly married in Massachusetts under Massachusetts law would file state tax returns as a married couple but would then have to file...

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Job creation held not a sufficiently compelling government interest to justify refusing to rezone industrial property for church use

The Religious Land Use-Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc, prohibits enforcing local zoning laws against religious institutions if those laws impose a "substantial burden" on the free exercise of religion and not justified by a compelling government interest that cannot be achieved in a less burdensome manner. The Ninth Circuit applied this statute to deny a city the power to exclude a church from moving to a larger building located in an area zoned for industrial use in the case of...

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