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US Supreme Court to Consider Whether Businesses Can Refuse to Sell Products to Gay Couples

The sun flares in the camera lens as it rises behind the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, June 25, 2017.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to consider whether business owners, acting on their religious beliefs, can refuse to sell their products to gay couples because they object to same-sex marriage.

The top U.S. court said it would consider the issue in its new term that starts in October. It is a dispute that centers on whether a baker in the western state of Colorado was within his rights to refuse to sell a cake to a gay couple, two men looking to buy a cake for an upcoming wedding celebration.

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, lost lower court rulings, which said he violated state law by refusing service to customers based on their sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court two years ago legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. as a fundamental right that states cannot prohibit.

Since then, disputes like the Colorado case have popped up in several states, with the Supreme Court previously allowing a New Mexico decision to stand that a photographer violated a state civil rights law by refusing to take pictures of a lesbian couple's commitment ceremony.

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the Colorado bakery case came as the justices overturned an Arkansas Supreme Court decision, ruling the state must list same-sex parents on birth certificates because otherwise it would deny them the full "constellation of benefits" of a marriage that the government has already sanctioned.