The 'Masterpiece Cakeshop' ruling is actually a win for LGBT rights

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the now infamous Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Then all hell broke loose. After the Court ruled that a Christian baker didn't have to provide a customized cake for a same-sex marriage he objected to, Democrats eager to appease the LGBT community quickly voiced their outrage. Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even called the ruling a violation of "fundamental rights" that "fails to uphold equality."

But I'm gay and pro-gay marriage, and even after this decision, I don't think the sky is falling. If anything this ruling, albeit narrow in scope, is a win for individual freedom and the First Amendment — and in the long run, it will be a victory for the gay community as well.

RELATED: The Supreme Court dodged 'the bigger question' in same-sex wedding cake case

Let's consider the facts of the case. The left tried to portray the Masterpiece case as a fight for gay rights — CNN even ran multiple headlines calling it a "same-sex marriage case" — but this case was never really about gay marriage. It's about whether gay couples can force others to participate in their wedding ceremonies even when it violates their religious beliefs. Jack Phillips is a Christian baker who was punished by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission after he declined to provide a customized wedding cake to a gay couple because he didn't want to provide an implicit endorsement of a same-sex union. This raises a complex First Amendment question: Do business owners have free speech rights?

This case was never really about gay marriage.

The best answer for everyone, including LGBT people, is an emphatic yes. Business owners are people, and they shouldn't be forced to violate their beliefs to accommodate someone else's convenience. The gay couple in this case could have gotten a cake made for their wedding almost anywhere, but decided they wanted to try and force a Christian baker to serve them. At first glance this might seem harmless — or even appealing if you support gay marriage like I do — but it's dangerous. If Phillips can be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding, why couldn't a gay baker be forced to bake a cake that says "God hates gay people?"

This almost happened. The same Colorado Civil Rights Commission that ruled against Phillips declined to pursue action against a gay baker in a 2014 case where he refused to serve a Christian activist who wanted anti-gay bible verses inscribed on a cake. But religious affiliation is a protected class just like sexual orientation, so before the Masterpiece ruling, the government could have cracked down on the gay baker and forced him to violate his beliefs as well. Other more conservative state regulatory bodies probably would have. So this ruling isn't just a win for Phillips — it's a win for all Americans who want to live a free society where they can't be forced to compromise their conscience.

Tolerance can't be forced.

Tolerance can't be forced. Activists who really want to increase LGBT acceptance need to seriously rethink their approach, because using the court system or government force to push your ideology onto others only fosters more resistance. Attitudes toward gay marriage are already shifting in a positive direction, but the 30 percent of the country still in opposition can't be convinced through coercion. The left insists that this case is about "gay rights," but no one has the right to force their beliefs onto others — and that kind of ideological animosity isn't exactly endearing. It often backfires, and isn't the way to truly promote tolerance or acceptance.

If anything, this decision didn't go far enough. The Court ruled 7-2 in favor of the baker, but it was a narrow ruling in scope, and it didn't hand down any broad declarations protecting free speech or individual conscience rights. The Court focused on the facts of this case, and cited the religious animosity shown by Colorado as an excuse to decline to set a precedent that could be broadly applied to future cases.

A broader pro-liberty decision would have done more to advance individual freedom, and could actually have expanded protections for LGBT Americans as a result. After all, at one time in American history, gay people were persecuted through anti-sodomy laws and even had their children taken away on account of their sexuality.

Surely the gay community can appreciate the necessity of individual freedom and the importance of protecting the First Amendment right to dissent from ideas you disagree with. In the Masterpiece case the Court narrowly protected this right — and in doing so, protected the same LGBT community it appeared to rule against.

Brad Polumbo is a writer for Young Voices. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Federalist, Fox News and National Review.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

Get tickets and learn more about the event here.

The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!