TIME justice

Colorado Baker Appeals Ruling Over Same-Sex Wedding Cake

Jack Phillips Wedding Cake
Brennan Linsley—AP Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store, in Lakewood, Colorado, on March 14, 2010.

"I'll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies. I just don't make cakes for same-sex weddings."

A Colorado baker is appealing a ruling from the state’s Civil Rights Commission that he either make cakes for same-sex weddings or face fines.

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, refused to bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins in July of 2012, when the now-married same-sex couple came into his store while planning a reception.

“I’ll make you birthday cakes, shower cakes, sell you cookies and brownies,” Phillips allegedly told the couple, citing religious beliefs as the reason for his refusal. “I just don’t make cakes for same-sex weddings.”

Attorneys representing Phillips, who hasn’t made any wedding cakes since the ruling, argued Tuesday in the Colorado Court of Appeals that he has the right to refuse to make a same-sex wedding cake according to the First Amendment, the Associated Press reports. “Mr. Phillips has the same First Amendment right as the cake artist who doesn’t want to create a Confederate flag cake,” said Jeremy Tedesco, one of Phillips’ attorneys.

Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union representing Craig and Mullins, meanwhile, say that a victory for Phillips would pave the way for future discrimination.

The case highlights what is quickly becoming a nationwide tug-of-war between gay rights and religious freedom. An Oregon bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple in 2013 was forced to pay $135,000 in damages last week, while a florist in Washington state faces an ongoing legal battle after refusing to serve a same-sex couple married in 2013.

An attorney representing Mullins and Craig said they would consider taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court if Phillips’ appeal succeeds.

TIME society

Bree Newsome’s Confederate Flag Pole Climb Was an Artistic Statement

Here's why Bree Newsome's pole climb was an act of public art

On June 28, in the early hours of the morning, 30-year-old helmeted activist Bree Newsome scaled the flagpole at the South Carolina State House and cut down the controversial Confederate flag, which was first raised there in 1961, almost 100 years after the Civil War.


Bree Newsome takes down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House.

It’s easy to dismiss Newsome’s actions as a social media stunt. Many have ridiculed it as pointless (or worse, harmful) theatrics that might derail legal action to take down the flag permanently. For example, The Baltimore Sun quoted two South Carolina lawmakers – Democratic State Senator Marlon Kimpson and Republican State Senator Shane Massey – who called the action counterproductive:

Yes, Newsome was arrested and the flag went right back up.

But Newsome’s climb can be viewed as a significant piece of socially engaged performance art that brought attention to the flag issue. And in the long run, it will work to get it removed, while encouraging people to think about what the flag means, particularly to African Americans.

Two types of socially engaged art

Let’s take a closer look at why this is the case.

Socially engaged art can be divided into two categories: symbolic practice and actual practice. (Newsome’s climb is the latter.)

The ideas of symbolic and actual practice are key concepts in artist and performer Pablo Helguera’s book Education for Socially Engaged Art. Helguera, who’s also the curator of public programming for New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, sees symbolic practice as socially motivated representations of ideas or issues in an artwork.

An example of symbolic practice would be artist Sonya Clark’s timely pieces “Unraveled” and “Unraveling,” which went on display at New York’s Mixed Greens gallery just days before the Charleston murders occurred.

In the work, Clark presents two Confederate flags. With volunteers, Clark completely unraveled one during performances in the space, with the threads bundled into separate piles of red, white and blue. The other is partially unraveled.


Sonya Clark: Unraveling the Confederate flag.

As the website Mother Jones pointed out, Clark uses the flag unraveling “to evoke the slow, patient work of unraveling racism.” Her work encourages contemplation and calls attention to what the Confederate flag represents.

Actual practice projects, on the other hand, involve direct action that can have an impact outside of gallery walls. For example, Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses preserved and revitalized an historic Houston neighborhood. Meanwhile, Tania Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International provides public workshops, events, actions and partnerships with immigrant and social service organizations in Queens, New York.

These projects are large in scale, and are grounded in art and aesthetics. They provide actual social and community services in addition to gallery, performance and gathering spaces.

Public expression promotes change

In his book, Helguera highlights the importance of both types of practice. He also looks at Jürgen Habermas’s Theory of Communicative Action, which proposes that social change can happen after individuals engage in public conversations that are rationally argumentative in nature. In other words, people need to “duke it out” publicly in civil disagreement.

Helguera notes that communicative action “can have a lasting effect on the spheres of politics and culture as a true emancipatory force.” It’s more than just talk.

Activist artists like Favianna Rodriguez, whose work is grounded in empowering people around issues of inequality and racism, point out that artists and other cultural workers are essential to creating significant and lasting social change. They do this by changing hearts and minds through culture, and by eventually shifting power in communities. Rodriguez sees legislative and policy change as a two-step process, and insists that “before you change politics, you have to change culture.”

In the case of the Charleston shooting, connecting the Confederate flag’s symbolism with the killer of nine black people at Bible study in their church provides an opportunity for this kind of national conversation.

So here’s why Newsome’s climb was a work of performance art: even though it happened in real life and in real time, it acted as a metaphor for the dismantling of institutionalized racism. Her Superwoman-styled action added a collective exclamation point to the demands to remove the Confederate flag, while tapping into the deeply rooted American mythology of individual heroism.

Individuals can galvanize large groups of people, leading to permanent change – that part of the myth is true. Newsome’s actions spoke to people who are tired of waiting for racial justice, and reenergized them for the rest of the battle.

Though her act of cutting down the divisive flag from the South Carolina State Capitol failed to permanently remove it, it drew waves of continued media attention to the issue. She performed an action movie gesture as a vicarious and thrilling experience for anyone who wanted this symbol of the Confederacy – synonymous with racism for so many people – removed, even for a brief time.

The ConversationColette Gaiter is Associate Professor, Art and Social Change at University of Delaware.

This article was originally published on The Conversation

The Conversation

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Civil Rights

Montana Polygamist Seeks ‘Legitimacy’ After Supreme Court Ruling

"Ours is a happy, functional, loving family," Nathan Collier tells TIME

On Tuesday, Nathan Collier went to the Yellowstone County Courthouse in his hometown of Billings, Montana, to register to get married to his partner Christine. The problem? Collier has been married to wife Victoria since 2000. And under Montana law, bigamy is outlawed except for faith reasons; Collier is not marrying Christine and Victoria due to his religious beliefs, making his marriage license illegal under bigamy laws.

“Everyday, we have to break the law to exist as a family,” Collier said in an interview with TIME. “We’re tired of it.”

The Montana trio argue that under Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriage across the country as legal, their polygamous relationship should be legally recognized and guaranteed the same rights as heterosexual and homosexual marriages. “If you read the justice’s statement, it applies to polygamists,” Collier said.

He’s referring to the dissent by Chief Justice John Roberts, who argued that the reasoning for giving same-sex couples the right to marry “would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage.”

Spurred by Roberts’ words, the three decided to go to the courthouse Tuesday armed with the Supreme Court ruling. County clerks initially denied to give a marriage license upon learning that Collier’s marriage with Victoria had not been dissolved. But the clerk returned afterwards, saying that they would refer to the county attorney’s office before making a decision. The county’s chief civil litigator is looking to have a formal response by early next week:

Collier and his two “wives” have a long and complicated history since meeting in 1999. In 2000, Collier legally married Victoria; he and Christine had a “religious ceremony” that year as well. After breaking up, Christine legally married another man; that marriage ended in divorce in 2006. In 2007, Collier and Christine again had a religious ceremony, and Christine joined Victoria and Collier in their home. Together, the family has five children.

The way Collier, Victoria, and Christine were treated at the courthouse made the family feel “violated,” Collier said. “We feel entitled for a legal legitimacy and for [the Yellowstone County Courthouse] to deny this is a violation of our civil rights … We feel the marriage equality law applies to us.”

Collier says that all his family seeks to do is be legally recognized and not live in fear anymore. If that means that he can bring polygamous relationships to the national conversation, Collier says he’d be willing to be arrested or sue the state if his license gets denied. “Ours is a happy, functional, loving family,” he said. “I’m not trying to redefine marriage. I’m not forcing anyone to believe in polygamy. We’re only defining marriage for us. We just want legitimacy.”

TIME Civil Rights

The Meaning Behind the Civil Rights Act’s Signing Date

Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act
PhotoQuest / Getty Images President Lyndon B Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act in a ceremony at the White House, Washington DC, July 2, 1964 .

President Johnson signed the bill into law on July 2, 1964

For President Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964, was a no-brainer: the date was a Thursday, just as it is this year, and the symbolism of marking the hard-fought victory just before Independence Day would be a shame to waste.

But, as TIME noted in its original 1964 coverage of the landmark legislation, the Fourth of July wasn’t the only significant date in play. The date on which the Senate passed the bill was June 19, 1964—precisely one year after “President John Kennedy sent to Congress a civil rights bill, [and] urged its speedy passage ‘not merely for reasons of economic efficiency, world diplomacy or domestic tranquility, but above all because it is right.'” Though Kennedy had been assassinated the previous fall, the law he had advocated for had actually grown in strength and scope.

After the House also passed the bill and it went on to the President, the season of its signing—and not just the calendar date—would also prove significant.

The bill included many obviously important provisions affecting matters of great weight, like voting rights and equal employment. But, as TIME pointed out, it would take months to see the voting rules take effect, and the labor matters included a period during which businesses could adjust. On the other hand, one of the parts of the law—a part that may seem today to be far less important—was, as TIME put it, “effective immediately, and likely to cause the fastest fireworks.”

The law entitled all persons to equal use of public accommodations, from hotels and movie theaters to soda fountains and public swimming pools. In the run up to the final vote, St. Augustine, Fla., proved why pools—long a contentious point, for the necessary closeness that comes with sharing the water with other people—would be a hot topic:

There, five Negroes and two white fellow demonstrators dived into the swimming pool at the segregated Monson Motor Lodge. The motel manager, furious, grabbed two jugs of muriatic acid, a cleansing agent, tried unsuccessfully to splash the stuff on the swimmers. Cops moved in, one of them stripped off his shoes and socks, leaped gracelessly into the water and pummeled the swimmers with his fists. When the fracas was over, 34 people, including the swimmers and other civil righters who kept dry, were hauled off to jail.

Due to the time of year, the new law’s effects would be immediately visible at swimming pools around the country.

TIME gender

See 9 Striking Historical Photos of African American Women

From the collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture

The history of what it has meant to be black and female in the United States is not easily summed up—a point that the upcoming Smithsonian photo book African American Women makes plain. As Kinshasha Holman Conwill, deputy director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, points out in an introductory essay, the images in the book “[illuminate] a narrative that reflects large and small moments in U.S. history and culture.”

Famous faces like Lena Horne are presented alongside those whose personal stories are far less well known. Leona Dean, for example, lived a relatively prosperous life in the Midwest in the early 20th century—a place and time that has been largely eclipsed in the national memory. “We made a point of choosing images of people who aren’t famous,” says Michèle Gates Moresi, the museum’s supervisory curator of collections. “They aren’t known as leaders, but they were to their communities.”

The book is part of the Double Exposure series from the National Museum of African American History and Culture; the first installment in the series was released earlier this year and both African American Women and Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality will be released on July 7.

TIME

Federal Judge Orders Alabama to Comply With Gay Marriage Ruling

Yes, you too, Alabama.

The one third of Alabama counties which have continued to refuse same-sex couples marriage licenses in spite of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling were issued a federal mandate on Wednesday morning: cut it out.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade issued the order from Mobile, Alabama, the Associated Press reports, saying that probate judges were not permitted to begrudge same-sex couples their marriage licenses now that the Supreme Court has deemed prohibitions on gay marriage unconstitutional. The order came as an update to Granade’s January 2015 ruling that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Still, it will not force counties who aren’t issuing marriage licenses at all in light of the Supreme Court ruling to begin doing so; the order specifically pertains to discrimination.

As of Tuesday, 22 counties in Alabama were not complying with the Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage nationwide. Meanwhile, clerks in Arkansas and Mississippi resigned altogether earlier this week rather than sign gay marriage licenses.

TIME Civil Rights

The Surprising Story of Walter White and the NAACP

Walter White Portrait
Picasa / Getty Images Portrait of Walter White, civil rights activist and Secretary of NAACP, 1940.

July 1, 1893: Walter Francis White, head of the NAACP for more than 20 years, is born

In the last few weeks, Rachel Dolezal—the Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader who recently left her post after being outed as white though saying that she identified as black—led many to examine the relationship between skin color and racial-justice activism. Writing for TIME, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar noted that, despite her ethnic background, Dolezal “has proven herself a fierce and unrelenting champion for African-Americans politically and culturally.”

Regardless of what one thinks of Dolezal, whose story only grew increasingly complicated, there’s plenty of historical evidence that looks aren’t the most important thing when it comes to championing equality. For proof, look no further than Walter Francis White, who was born on this day, July 1, in 1893. White ushered the NAACP into the Civil Rights era, serving as its leader more than 20 years, from 1931 until his death in 1955.

In the dated language of the day, his obituary in the New York Times referred to him as “a Negro by choice,” explaining:

Only five-thirty-seconds of his ancestry was Negro. His skin was fair, his hair blond, his eyes blue and his features Caucasian. He could easily have joined the 12,000 Negroes who pass the color-line and disappear into the white majority every year in this country.

But if Walter White was a “Negro by choice,” it wasn’t a choice made arbitrarily—and his first-hand knowledge of the facts of life for African Americans was personal, deep and real. Both of his parents had been born into slavery, and although they went on to earn college degrees and pursue middle-class careers as a postal worker (his father) and teacher (his mother), they endured ruthless discrimination throughout their lives. As TIME elaborated in 1938:

[White] remembers that his father’s house was almost burned down during an Atlanta race riot in his childhood. He recalls too that his father died in agony when the surgeons of the white ward of an Atlanta hospital, to which he had been mistakenly taken for an emergency operation, balked upon learning his race and insisted on shipping him in the rain to the Negro ward across the street.

While he was a highly esteemed activist and a powerful champion of anti-lynching legislation, he was occasionally rebuffed in the black community by those who mistook him for a white outsider. In his autobiography, A Man Called White, he recalls the day he accidentally stepped on the toes of another black man on a subway platform. The man lashed out bitterly, saying, “Why don’t you look where you’re going? You white folks are always trampling on colored people.”

White knew as well as anyone that his life would have been vastly simpler if he had capitalized on his skin color and, as the Times put it, “disappear[ed] into the white majority.” But he refused to turn his back on his heritage — or on those who couldn’t so easily disappear from the injustices of the Jim Crow era.

As he put it in his book:

I am not white. There is nothing within my mind and heart which tempts me to think I am. Yet I realize acutely that the only characteristic which matters to either the white or the colored race—the appearance of whiteness—is mine. There is magic in a white skin; there is tragedy, loneliness, exile, in a black skin.

Through his activism White helped ease some of that tragedy, loneliness, and exile. After he died, TIME called him a “dogged lobbyist” who had “a major hand in virtually every civil-rights law enacted” during his NAACP leadership. Indeed, TIME concludes that 1955 obituary with the observation, “As Walter White died, his old enemy Jim Crow was dying too.”

Read a 1938 profile of Walter White, here in the TIME archives: Black’s White

TIME Civil Rights

See the Civil Rights Movement in Photographs

A new Smithsonian book tells the story through pictures

As the National Museum of African American History and Culture prepares to open, its staff is preparing a vast collection of artifacts and documents for display—but, though the museum won’t officially open until next year, a new series of books offers a sneak peek at its photography collection. The second book in the Double Exposure series, Civil Rights and the Promise of Equality, will be available July 7. (The first came out earlier this year.)

Some of the images of the civil rights movement—the fire hoses, the marches—are likely to be familiar to readers. But as other photos in the collection make clear, those weren’t the whole story. The movement was also captured in photographs of a new voter’s happiness and a new father’s insistence on a better future for his child.

“Civil rights, certainly, is something where people expect a story to be told but we want people to look at it in a different way—not just the photos of Martin Luther King,” says Michèle Gates Moresi, the museum’s supervisory curator of collections. “Those are in there, of course, but I think when people actually look at the book they can be introduced to new stories.”

TIME Civil Rights

Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise Takes Down Help Wanted Sign Asking for Men Only

Operations Inside A Dunkin Donuts Inc. Restaurant Location
Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg/Getty Images Signage is seen on a cup of coffee at a Dunkin Donuts Inc. restaurant in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2014.

Such a limitation would violate employment law

A Dunkin’ Donuts location in Brooklyn has taken down a help wanted sign that incited outrage for specifying “Male staff only.”

According to neighborhood news outlet Ditmas Park Corner, it all began when an angry 8-year-old saw the sign and insisted her father take a photograph of the discriminatory posting, which violates employment law. Dunkin’ Donuts responded to the complaint in a statement to Ditmas Park Corner:

The franchisee informs us this sign has been taken down, it does not reflect his policies and he has followed up with his employees. Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants are independently owned and operated by individual franchisees who are solely responsible for making their own business decisions, including employment decisions such as hiring practices. Franchisees are required to comply with all applicable state, federal and local laws, including but not limited to those governing hiring and non-discrimination.

Women: You, too, can serve Coolattas this summer in Brooklyn.

[Ditmas Park Corner]

TIME LGBT

These Americans Got the Right to Marry in Any State for Their Birthday

Thanks for the birthday present, SCOTUS

Gay Americans who were already celebrating their birthday this Friday got an extra surprise: the constitutional right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Monet Sutton, who celebrated her 24th birthday on Friday, was driving into Washington for some red velvet cupcakes with her cousin when she heard the news. “Words can’t describe how I feel right now,” she told TIME over the phone. “I literally just stopped crying. I may start crying again!”

Sutton, who works for a radio station in Virginia Beach, married her wife Kayla just three weeks ago, less than a year after Virginia legally recognized same-sex marriage in October 2014.

“I grew up feeling like my government wasn’t on my side,” Sutton said of the landmark national ruling. “With this decision I feel like they are finally seeing me and my wife as people. We can move to any state and our marriage will be acknowledged as being just as legitimate as any other.”

Jesse Stommel, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was more or less bedridden with a broken ankle on his 39th birthday on Friday. Still, Stommel was thrilled by the Supreme Court decision.

“Twenty years ago I don’t think I could have imagined that this would happen in my lifetime,” said Stommel, who married his partner of eight years on June 13, 2014, in the final hour of a week-long stretch in which gay marriage was legal in the state of Wisconsin.

“On that Thursday night, I said to my partner, ‘What are you doing tomorrow? Want to get married?’” Stommel recalled. The couple married in an impromptu ceremony the following day at noon—which Stommel, who says he’s usually pretty private on Twitter, live tweeted.

“Some things need to be public,” Stommel told TIME. “This was something we needed to loudly proclaim.”

Stommel and Sutton weren’t alone in their double celebrations on Friday. Here’s what other Americans had to say about the gay marriage ruling falling on their birthdays:

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