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U.S. Supreme Court to hear case on refusing service to gays on religious grounds

The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado.

Top court will examine Colorado case involving cake shop; issue also arose in Indiana, Kentucky

In this March 10, 2014 file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips cracks eggs into a cake batter mixer inside his store in Lakewood, Colo. The U.S. Supreme Court justices said Monday consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

The Supreme Court is taking on a new clash between gay rights and religion in a case about a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado.

The justices said Monday they will consider whether a baker who objects to same-sex marriage on religious grounds can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The case asks the high court to balance the religious rights of the baker against the couple's right to equal treatment under the law. Similar disputes have popped up across the United States.

The decision to take on the case reflects renewed energy among the court's conservative justices, whose ranks have recently been bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the high court.

The court will review a Colorado court decision that found baker Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakeshop discriminated against the gay couple under Colorado law.

Colorado's anti-discrimination law protects people on the basis of their sexual orientation. Charlie Craig and David Mullins filed a complaint against Phillips and his suburban Denver shop after Phillips said he would not create and decorate a cake in honour of their marriage.

Phillips told the Supreme Court he has free speech and religious rights under the First Amendment that should protect him. 

Colorado did not permit same-sex couples to marry until 2014. Two years earlier, Craig and Mullins were planning to fly to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage was legal, and host a reception in Denver upon their return to Colorado. They wanted the cake for the occasion.

Birth certificate ruling

In a separate matter involving gay rights, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled for same-sex couples who complained an Arkansas birth certificate law discriminated against them.

The justices issued an unsigned opinion reversing an Arkansas high court ruling that upheld the law.

Under the law, married lesbian couples had to get a court order to have both spouses listed as parents on their children's birth certificates.

Arkansas routinely lists a woman's husband as a child's father, even if he is not the biological parent of the child. The same-sex couples want the same presumption applied to the married partner of a woman who gives birth to a child.

Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented from the ruling.

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