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UPDATE 1-U.S. top court to hear baker's religious objection to making cake for gay couple

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WASHINGTON, June 26 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to decide a major case on whether business owners can refuse to service gay couples if they oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds involving a Christian baker in Colorado who declined to make a wedding cake for two men.

The court took up an appeal by Jack Phillips, a baker who runs Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, just outside Denver, of a state court ruling that his refusal violated a Colorado anti-discrimination law. Phillips contends the law violated his rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

The dispute is one of several similar cases around the United States pressed by Christian conservatives who object to gay marriage and argue they should not be forced to violate their religious beliefs by providing certain services to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court's action came after Republican President Donald Trump's appointee Neil Gorsuch joined the court on April 10, restoring its 5-4 conservative majority. In prior cases, Gorsuch has embraced an expansive view of religious rights.

The court will hear the case in its next term, which begins in October. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)