Duff Goldman is the owner of Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes and the star of Food Network‘s Ace of Cakes. In this essay shared exclusively with PEOPLE, the celebrity baker gives his thoughts on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case that is headed to the Supreme Court in December. The bakery owner in the case claims he has a right to refuse his wedding cake services to same-sex couples based on religious freedom. Goldman disagrees.
When I set up my shop, Charm City Cakes, in Baltimore, I was no longer just a baker, but also now a business owner. It just so happened that my business was to sell cakes, my way.
My business is unique, there’s no doubt about it, and that’s exactly why customers of all different types come to my shop. I don’t choose who walks through my door, I just know that when they’re there, I’m doing business with them.
And that’s the whole point of starting a business open to the public. We get to choose what we sell, but we don’t get to choose who decides to stop in and purchase our goods.
That is why I’m supporting a same-sex couple in Colorado in their lawsuit against a local business owner who refused to sell them wedding cake – the same product he routinely sold to straight couples – because he claims that doing so would go against his beliefs. Following the business owner’s refusal, lower courts repeatedly agreed that refusing service amounted to nothing more than discrimination, plain and simple. And I definitely agree, but the case is far from over, and it’s now heading to the Supreme Court this fall.
I mean, come on!
Based on logic, if he could refuse service to someone who goes against his beliefs, could a restaurant refuse service to an interracial couple because the owner objects to interracial marriage? What about other businesses? Could a Subway employee – which the brand calls their sandwich artists – refuse to sell me a six-inch cold cut trio because he does not agree with my facial hair, claiming his freedom of speech allows him to refuse me? This is the type of slippery slope we’re getting into.
This is not about the cake. This is plainly and clearly distorting constitutional rights to justify discrimination against a LGBT people.
When a business chooses to open its doors to the public, and then chooses to sell cakes for wedding receptions, it doesn’t have the right to refuse to sell the product to people just because of their sexual orientation, or their gender identity, their race, or their religion.
WATCH: Why is Duff Goldman Getting His Hands Dirty With an Electric Cake?
I take a tremendous amount of pride in the products I create for my customers. As do a lot of people. Plenty of businesses sell products and services every day that include creativity: salons, caterers, retail outlets, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. But that doesn’t mean they are allowed to refuse service to people because they are gay, and it doesn’t mean that providing a service means you endorse an idea or message. It just means you are a public business and as such you are open to everyone in the public. I have a responsibility to treat all of my customers with the dignity and respect they deserve.
We decided a really long time ago that businesses don’t get to discriminate against their customers because of who they are. I mean, permitting business owners to pick and choose who they serve would be the equivalent of displaying a “wedding cakes for heterosexual people only” sign in storefront windows. And, if the Court decides that he can do that, what’s to stop another business owner from putting a sign that says “Men Only” or “Whites Only” or “Christians Only,” or any other sign that allows them to pick and choose?
This is wrong. We know it’s wrong. This is discrimination.
So as a business owner, and a maker of cakes, I am creative in making my products, and following laws against discrimination doesn’t encroach on my freedom of speech. But more importantly, this isn’t about cakes. It’s about discrimination.