Colorado Baker Sues State for Claiming He Discriminated Against Transgender Woman

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake / Getty Images
August 15, 2018

The Masterpiece Cakeshop owner who won a 7-2 Supreme Court decision in June after he refused to bake a cake for a gay couple based on his religious beliefs is suing the state of Colorado once again.

Jack Phillips filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. John Hickenlooper (D.) and the state’s Civil Rights Commission after state officials determined he had discriminated against a lawyer who asked him to customize a cake to celebrate her gender transition. The lawyer, Autumn Scardina, requested a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside in June of 2017 for her birthday and the seventh anniversary of her gender transition.

"The state is doubling down on its hostility against my beliefs, even though that’s what the Supreme Court said they couldn’t do," Phillips said in a statement. "It seems like I’m the only person in the state of Colorado who can’t live out my beliefs."

Phillips made national headlines in 2012 when he chose not to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because he is religiously opposed to same-sex marriage. The case went through years of legal battles before being settled in June when the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado authorities acted with biased against his religious beliefs.

The decision did not overrule a 2008 Colorado law that banned business owners from discriminating against clients based on sexual orientation, but it dictated that the state commission infringed on Phillips’ First Amendment rights.

But the state commission notified Phillips after his Supreme Court victory that the state law most likely required him to bake the cake for Scardina. Phillips, who is represented by religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, brought the fresh lawsuit against the state commission Tuesday night in U.S. District Court in Denver. Scardina is not listed as a defendant.

"It’s clear that the state of Colorado did not get the message from the Supreme Court, since it is still singling out Jack for punishment and showing hostility toward his religious beliefs,"said Alliance Defending Freedom senior vice president Kristen Waggoner.

Phillips’ lawyers have noted that Masterpiece Cakeshop does not bake cakes to celebrate Halloween, attack LGBT individuals, or advocate for substance abuse. Phillips said he’s even rejected requests for anti-American cakes and cakes that denigrate the LGBT community.

The state has also not found probable cause for other bakers who declined to bake cakes because of a customer’s sexual preference.

"The arbitrary basis on which the commission is applying the law makes it clear that they are simply targeting Jack because they don’t like his religious beliefs," Waggoner said. "Jack shouldn’t have to fear government hostility when he opens his shop for business each day. We’re asking the court to put a stop to that."