David Mullins and Charlie Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, with Craig's mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts and then celebrate with family and friends back home in Colorado. Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips informed them that because of his religious beliefs the store’s policy was to deny service to customers who wished to order baked goods to celebrate a same-sex couple’s wedding.

Longstanding Colorado state law prohibits public accommodations, including businesses such as Masterpiece Cakeshop, from refusing service based on factors such as race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.  Mullins and Craig filed complaints with the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) contending that Masterpiece had violated this law.
The CCRD found probable cause that Phillips illegally discriminated against Mullins and Craig.  In December 2013, Administrative Judge Robert Spencer of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts issued a decision confirming that finding.  Masterpiece Cakeshop appealed Spencer’s ruling to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  The Commission discussed the matter at a public hearing on May 30, and issued a decision at a public hearing on May 30, 2014.
The Commission’s order affirmed previous determinations that Masterpiece’s refusal to sell Mullins and Craig a wedding cake constituted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in violation of Colorado law.  The Commission also ordered Masterpiece Cakeshop to change its company policies, provide “comprehensive staff training” regarding public accommodations discrimination, and provide quarterly reports for the next two years regarding steps it has taken to come into compliance and whether it has turned away any prospective customers.
The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Civil Rights Commission.  Craig v. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc., 370 P.3d 272 (Colo. App. Ct. 2015).  The Colorado Supreme Court declined to hear the bakery's appeal, but the United States Supreme Court took the case.  Oral argument was held on December 5, 2017.  The Supreme Court issued its ruling on June 4, 2018.  Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 584 U.S. 617 (2018).  The Court ruled narrowly for the baker in this specific case while affirming the anti-discrmination principles for which the ACLU argued.    


ACLU blogs and commentary:

ACLU news releases:

ACLU case number



Sara J. Rich, Mark Silverstein,Colorado ACLU; Ria Tabacco Mar, James D. Esseks, Leslie Cooper, Rachel Wainer Apter, Louise Melling, Rose A. Saxe, Lee Rowland, Amanda Goad, David D. Cole, Amanda W. Shanor, Daniel Mach, ACLU

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Paula Greisen, King & Greisen, LLC, ACLU of Colorado Cooperating Attorney

Case number