Monday, June 04, 2018

Unsettled - A Baker's Right To Not Bake For A Gay Wedding

I've combined two topics in the title - but it seems to fit today's US Supreme Court decision.  But I did stop at the Anchorage Museum today and saw the Unsettled exhibit, which the Museum's website begins describing this way:
"Unsettled amasses 200 artworks by 80 artists living and/or working in a super-region we call the Greater West, a geographic area that stretches from Alaska to Patagonia, and from Australia to the American West. Though ranging across thousands of miles, this region shares many similarities: vast expanses of open land, rich natural resources, diverse indigenous peoples, colonialism, and the ongoing conflicts that inevitably arise when these factors coexist. . ."
The exhibit was POWERFUL with lots of interesting exhibits and I want to post about it more.  But I did want to give you a preview now as a way of showing the wide range of this show.  This first is from Sitka artist Nicholas Galinin, called THINGS ARE LOOKING NATIVE, NATIVE'S LOOKING WHITER.  This is merely a reproduction of it on the elephant sized elevator at the museum.  He had several other works that work striking that I'll put up later.

Below is Bolivian Sonia Falcone's Campo de Color

I don't ever recall an olfactory art piece in a museum before.  Here's Bruno Fazzolari's Unsettled scent.

As you can see, this was the only art piece in the exhibit that you were allowed to touch.  It wasn't bad.  You can buy it at the museum gift shop (the only art work in the exhibit you can buy) or for those of you not in Anchorage, at Fazzolari's website.

Did he name the scent for the exhibit, or did it get in because of the name?

Truly, there was something there to interest everyone.  Chris Burden's All The Submarines In The United States of America had model submarines suspended in the air.  There was a list of all their numbers and names on the wall, and notebook with a brief description of each.  It was opened to the page which included the USS Thresher.

Rodney Graham's Paradoxical Western Scene looked like a photograph (it wasn't) and the setting in Yosemite Valley with El Capitan in the background was definitely eye-catching.  And different from everything else.  You might even tempt the kids by telling them there's a chocolate room.

I'll add more from the exhibit in another post, but I wanted to get Anchorage folks' attention so they head down to the museum to catch this before it leaves in September.

The advantage for me of having an annual membership at the museum is when I'm downtown, I can take a break and spend time looking at one part of the museum without thinking about the $18 admission price each time.  Though it's only $15 for Alaskans, $12 for seniors, and $9 for kids.  Still that's steep for an hour visit to look at one section only.  And for members, there's a machine to scan your card and go in without having to stop at the front desk.  But remember to take a quarter for the lockers for you bulky stuff - but you get it back when you pick your stuff up.   So, with an annual membership, I can make many short trips to look at small portions of the museum without thinking about the cost.  For those who want to see this exhibit and not pay a big chunk of change - the museum is free on First Fridays (of the month) from 6-9 pm.

You can see more images from the exhibit at the link.

Well that doesn't leave much room for MASTERPIECE CAKESHOP, LTD. v. COLORADO CIVIL RIGHTS COMM’N, which is ok, since I haven't had time to read the whole opinion.  Conflicts between two protected rights is always tricky.  While I have posted about the issue of artists (photographers and wedding cake makers) and same-sex marriages and sided with the couples in the past, I could also see the baker's point of not wanting to help make something as critical as the cake for a gay wedding, if his religious beliefs truly found such weddings sinful.   I also didn't think it likely that too many same-sex couples would want anti-gay marriage businesses involved in their weddings anyway.  That post, by the way, looked at an argument that was comparing those situations with whether a kosher baker could refuse to cater to serve ham.   The case was chosen, if I recall correctly, to make a point, but I never thought it was the best case and apparently and 7-2 majority of the court didn't either and from what I understand, the decision very narrowly is focused on this particular baker and the particular decision by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

So, it would seem, the issue is still unsettled, as I say in the title.


  1. It leaves open the issue of whether anti-discrimination laws should supersede religious beliefs in future cases. From what I read the baker also refused to make Halloween cakes so his refusal to bake this one was not unique. The reaction to the Colorado Civil Right Commission ruling comparing him to a Nazi and a slave owner and ordering him to undergo anti-discrimination training (for not baking a cake!) was I think the cause for the loss and 7-2 is pretty convincing. It was a pretty weak case to start with. According to court records, this couple picked the baker because of his strong beliefs and opposition to gay marriage. The baker across the street would have make their cake.
    I am sure a better thought out case will be coming along in the future. The Supreme Court punted on this one.

  2. That sounds pretty much like what I've been hearing. Though I wonder how many bigots are now joining anti-gay churches so they can have evidence of their sincere religious beliefs.

  3. Steve, sorry to be sceptical, but it might take something more for these good folk to become 'right with god' about hating gay folk. After all, they would have to roll out of bed on a Sunday morning!

    1. I wasn't suggesting right with god, I was thinking right with the Supreme Court. But it does seem that this was very narrowly decided and others won't have it dismissed so easily. I just imagine the discussions among the justices. We'll join you on this if it's about the Commission's comments about religion and you add in language that strongly let's people know gays can't be excluded in most cases. From what I can tell, Kennedy didn't see much merit in the argument that baking a cake was a form of art that merited First Amendment protection. It seems they based their decision not on the baker's right, but on the commission's disrespect for his religious beliefs.


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