That aspect of the ruling is wrong. “Despicable” was an unfortunate choice of words, but the commissioner’s statement that one cannot invoke religion to harm others is actually black-letter constitutional law, as is the notion that one cannot invoke religion to avoid complying with a general rule requiring businesses not to discriminate. The Supreme Court itself said just that in 1990 in Employment Division v. Smith, ruling that a Native American tribe could not invoke its religious beliefs in peyote use to avoid the state’s criminal prohibition on smoking peyote.
But what’s critical is that this reasoning is a one-time ruling for this case only. The court made clear that states are free to require businesses, including bakers, to serve gay and lesbian customers equally, including in the provision of wedding cakes. In fact, Charlie Craig and David Mullins could go right back into Masterpiece Cakeshop today and request a cake to celebrate their wedding anniversary — and if Jack Phillips refused them, he would have no First Amendment right to turn them away.