A gay couple walks into a bakery owned by a straight, cis-gender male. The couple wants to buy a wedding cake, but the baker refuses service. The baker doesn’t believe in gay marriage, so he tells the couple he will not bake the cake. Is that legal? Is that moral? 

John Corvino, dean of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College and philosophy professor, endeavored to answer these questions through a lecture titled "Masterpiece Cakeshop, Sexual-Orientation Discrimination, and the Metaphysics of Cakes."  

Corvino’s talk centered on the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission Supreme Court caseof 2018. This case involved a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, because it conflicted with his religious beliefs.   

The Supreme Court’s decision failed to answer the case’s fundamental question:Where do we draw the legal line between anti-discrimination laws and the protection of free speech? 

Although the court failed to answer this question, Corvino had an answer.  

Corvino considers the refusal to engage in a creative activity, what he terms as a “design-based refusal,” is consistent with individuals’ rights to free speech. However, refusal to provide a common item such as a cake, constitutes a discriminatory act.  

“The Colorado baker tried to make it sound like his refusal is a design-based refusal,” Corvino said. “It was a use-based refusal as the couple were going to pick the wedding cake from a catalog and the baker was against it being used in a gay marriage.” 

Corvino has authored numerous academic publications and three books including “Why Shouldn’t Tommy and Jim Have Sex?” and “Debating Religious Liberty and Discrimination.”

Sarah Walker, a graduate student in the communications department, said she attended the event because Corvino is a member of her Ph.D. committee and his lecture is relevant to her thesis work.  

“I do research on the religious rhetoric in response to the LGBTQ community, specifically, the act of self-marginalization by groups such as Evangelical Christians in response to the recent success and increased acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” Walker said.   

Kerestin Aziz, a second-year pre-med student, said she regularly views Corvino’s popular YouTube channel where he presents nuanced arguments in an accessible way aimed at a wide audience.  

"I  love (Corvino's) distinction between user-based and design-based objections,” Aziz said. “I was also really impressed by the balance of eloquence and humor in his presentation.” 

The philosophy department’s next event will be the annual Seymour Riklin Memorial Lecture by Alexander Nehamas, a professor of philosophy from Princeton University, on Nov. 16.

(5) comments


This story seems a little misleading. It is not like the couple picked a cake out of the refrigerator and the baker refused to sell it to them. That would have been wrong and illegal. In America, a person doesn't have to create a work of art for someone whose lifestyle and beliefs are contrary to their own.

Michael S

Hi Caboose,

Thank you for your comment. I apologize that the article is not as clear as it should be. I was on a time constraint. In addition to that, the editors have changed some of the content of the article and weren't very responsive when I tried to change it back.

In regards to your comment, things are a little tricky. The couple just started leafing through the cake brochure when they were denied service and then left. You say that if they have actually picked up the cake and then they were refused the purchase that would have been wrong and illegal. Correct, that is morally wrong, however, whether it is legal or not is a different story.
According to Corvino, what the baker did in this case was an act of discrimination, even if the couple didn’t get the chance to actually pick the cake up. Corvino said that picking a cake up from a brochure would not allow the baker to use his freedom of speech as a defense, since making a cake is a standard activity a baker would be involved in and that would not allow the baker to give a “design-based refusal”.
I hope I answered your inquiry. I encourage you to access Corvino’s YouTube channel. Here is a video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1suZiTIq3XI




resultado jogo do bichoa great way to have an exchange, among artists and for people coming in from out of town, to get to know the place and what it’s like in our community,” she said. “It helps to bring in an audience for somebody who people don’t know

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.