Date of Award

May 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Stan Husi

Committee Members

Stan Husi, Blain Neufeld, Robert Schwartz


Free Speech, Liberalism, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Religious Liberty, Religous Exemptions, Same-Sex Marriage


In 2015, the United States Supreme Court effectively made same-sex marriage legal throughout the country. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy opined that not extending marriage equality to same-sex couples violated both their autonomy and their right to equal dignity under the law. Three years earlier, a same-sex couple visited Masterpiece Cakeshop, a bakery in Colorado, and requested that the owner design and create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding. The owner declined, advising the couple that he did not provide wedding cakes for same-sex weddings due to his religious beliefs. He was found guilty of violating the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In this paper, I present a liberal argument for the proposition that narrowly-tailored exemptions ought to be provided to wedding vendors such as Phillips with religious objections to same-sex marriage. In arguing for this claim, I provide a compromise between those who believe that the relevant anti-discrimination provisions should be categorically applied to all businesses open to the public and proponents of religious liberty who maintain that any business with religious objections to same-sex marriage should be able to refuse service to same-sex couples.