WASHINGTON — Forcing a religious baker to make a wedding cake for a gay couple is like coercing a Jewish baker to make a cake with a swastika on it — at least according to the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board.
Citing the argument of the baker’s lawyers that making a cake amounts to expressive activity and is thus a form of constitutionally protected speech, the paper published an editorial on Thursday referencing a 1978 case in which the Supreme Court decided a New Hampshire motorist had the right to refuse having a license plate with the state’s slogan “Live Free or Die.”
“To be forced to create a cake for a same-sex wedding is a similar burden,” the article asserted. “Imagine a Jewish baker being required to put a swastika on a cake.”
The article was immediately castigated by civil rights leaders, including Jonathan Greenblatt, who heads the Anti-Defamation League.
The Tribune should know better: Nazis are not protected by anti-discrimination laws! To compare baking a cake for a gay couple to baking a cake with a swastika is beyond offensive and hateful to the #LGBTQ community. https://t.co/bIB2n5args
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) December 8, 2017
“The Tribune should know better: Nazis are not protected by anti-discrimination laws!” he tweeted. “To compare baking a cake for a gay couple to baking a cake with a swastika is beyond offensive and hateful to the LGBTQ community.”
The editorial was in response to a hotly contested Supreme Court case that heard oral arguments on Tuesday.
The case involves a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, when they visited his bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in Lakewood, Colorado, in 2012.
They were set to be married in Massachusetts but were having the reception in Colorado.
The suggestion that a cake celebrating a same-sex couple is similar to a cake celebrating Nazi Germany’s mass murder of more than 6 million Jews, along with millions of homosexuals, gypsies and other ethnic minorities, drew scorn and ridicule on social media.
“Uhhh did the gays murder 6 million pastry chefs at some point?” asked Jesse Lehrich, the communications director of Organizing for America, who used to be a foreign policy spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
uhhh did the gays murder 6 million pastry chefs at some point https://t.co/8HG4SEQq6Q
— Jesse Lehrich (@JesseLehrich) December 7, 2017
A Chicago-area journalist, Jim Romanesko, tweeted to the Tribune’s editorial page editor, John McCormick: “You should know better.”
McCormick did not respond to a request for comment.
Christian Michell, a Democratic Illinois State Representative, tweeted to the Tribune: “Respectfully, this analogy won’t end well for you. First it ignores that LGBT folks are a protected class and Nazis, for good reason, are not.”
That was in response to the paper’s promoting the article and saying, “Should a religious baker have to create a cake for a same-sex wedding? Imagine a Jewish baker being required to put a swastika on a cake.”
Adam Serwer, an editor for The Atlantic magazine, made a similar point: “Do people making the ‘what if a Jewish baker had to make a Nazi cake’ analogy not understand that Nazis are not a protected class under U.S. law?”
do people making the "what if a jewish baker had to make a nazi cake" analogy not understand that nazis are not a protected class under U.S. law?
— Adam Serwer ???? (@AdamSerwer) December 7, 2017
At the heart of the case is an argument over whether refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding amounts to discrimination. Protected classes are groups of people who qualify for special protections under law from discrimination. Gay Americans are among those people, as are African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Disabled Americans, Jewish Americans and others.
Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for The New Yorker, noted another irony. He tweeted that the analogy “equates gay people — historically victims of hate crimes — with Nazis, historically perpetrators of them. Against gays.”