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Hundreds attend rally in support of Christian baker who refused to make same-sex wedding cake

(Reuters/Rick Wilking)Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake in Lakewood, Colorado, September 21, 2017. Phillips told a same-sex couple that his religious beliefs prevented him from making them a wedding cake.

Hundreds have gathered at a rally at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood on Wednesday to show their support for Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Phillips was found guilty of violating Colorado's anti-discrimination laws in 2014 for refusing to bake the same-sex wedding cake because it went against his religious convictions. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear his appeal, and the oral arguments in the case has been scheduled for Dec. 5.

The rally in support of Phillips was attended by religious activists, evangelical small-business owners, political leaders, as well as leaders from the Catholic, Jewish and Mormon communities.

Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Yaakov Menken, the managing director of the Coalition for Jewish Values, spoke at the rally saying the case is particularly relevant for Jews because behaviors and actions constitute most of their religious observance.

Menken argued that Phillips has as much right to bake a same-sex wedding cake that he feels violates his religious convictions as Jews do to refuse to eat non-kosher food.

"Jack Phillips says that he can only celebrate unions that conform with his beliefs. That is a positive statement, not a negative one. That is not discrimination but discernment," the rabbi said, according to The Christian Post.

"[If you] refuse to prepare me a wedding cake because I am a Jew, that is bigotry. But if you can only celebrate a Southern Baptist marriage, I understand and respect your religion and I would never imagine that I could somehow coerce you to violate your precepts. That is called tolerance," he continued.

Menken accused Phillips' critics of practicing the very intolerance they claim to abhor and warned that Jews could also be targeted.

"Current environment is that only people of faith can be described as bigots. That is why this case is so important and why the wrong decision would be so dangerous," Menken stressed.

"Because, the people who sued Jack Phillips are not opposed to discrimination but expert practitioners of the craft. And if they can do this to Christians, you can be darn well be sure they can do it to Jews," he went on to say.

The rally also featured Washington state florist Barronelle Stutzman, who was punished for refusing to serve flowers celebrating a same-sex wedding.

Phillip's bakery has stopped baking wedding cakes altogether after he lost his case in 2013. He told the rally that he had previously rejected several requests for custom cakes that violate his conscience, including cakes celebrating Halloween, bachelor or bachelorette parties, and anti-American sentiment.

The Colorado baker noted that he has lost over 40 percent of his business and many staff members since the beginning of his legal battle over five years ago.

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