Colorado baker back in court over 2nd LGBT bias allegation

By : wire report
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DENVER (AP) | Attorneys for a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds — a stand partially upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — argued in federal court Dec. 18 that the state is punishing him again over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

Lawyers for Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver, are suing to try to stop the state from taking action against him over the new discrimination allegation. They say the state is treating Phillips with hostility because of his Christian faith and pressing a complaint that they call an “obvious setup.”

“At this point, he’s just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won’t let him,” Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said after the hearing. The conservative Christian nonprofit law firm is representing Phillips.

State officials argued for the case to be dismissed, but the judge said he was inclined to let the case move forward and would issue a written ruling later.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips discriminated against Denver attorney Autumn Scardina because she’s transgender. Phillips’ shop refused to make a cake last year that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside after Scardina revealed she wanted it to celebrate her transition from male to female.

She asked for the cake on the same day the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would consider Phillips’ appeal of the previous commission ruling against him. In that 2012 case, he refused to make a wedding cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Phillips for refusing to make the cake, voting 7-2 that it violated Phillips’ First Amendment rights.

But the court did not rule on the larger issue of whether businesses can invoke religious objections to refuse service to gays and lesbians.

Phillips’ lawsuit alleges that Colorado violated his First Amendment right to practice his faith and 14th Amendment right to equal protection. It seeks $100,000 in punitive damages from Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman says the case should be dismissed because of state efforts to enforce its order against Phillips. A state hearing is scheduled for February to determine what will happen next.

Deputy Attorney General LeeAnn Morrill told Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel that the commission did not mention religion in its latest finding against Phillips. She said the commission also has used the state’s anti-discrimination law to protect people who have faced bias because of their faith.

The judge said he thought the Supreme Court’s ruling had more relevance in the current case than the state acknowledged and quoted from the justices’ opinions during the hearing. He mentioned now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy’s conclusion that the commission had shown “hostility” toward religion.

Wiley said he would have to hear evidence before deciding whether to temporarily block state proceedings.

In the lawsuit, Phillips’ attorneys say he “believes as a matter of religious conviction that sex — the status of being male or female — is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed.”

It claims Phillips has been harassed and received death threats and that his small shop was vandalized while the wedding cake case made its way through the courts.

Ex-Colorado official: No bias in same-sex wedding cake case

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DENVER (AP) — A former Colorado civil rights commissioner whose remarks on religion were the basis of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling for a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple insisted last Wednesday she has no religious bias and wouldn’t have said anything if she’d known how her remarks would be used.

Diann Rice acknowledged she made remarks cited by the high court when it ruled last Monday in favor of Jack Phillips, a suburban Denver baker. But she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that she made the comments after Colorado’s Civil Rights Commission already had ruled against Phillips and for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins.

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White House hails Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling as religious liberty win

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hailed Tuesday as a win for religious freedom the narrow ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to serve a custom-made wedding cake to a same-sex couple.

“When it comes to the bakers, we were pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision,” Sanders said. “The First Amendment prohibits government discriminating on the basis of religious beliefs, and the Supreme Court rightly concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission failed to show tolerance and respect for his religious beliefs.”

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Supreme Court sidesteps major ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped making a major decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case pending before the court, issuing a narrow decision based on the facts of the lawsuit in favor of a Colorado baker sued for refusing a wedding cake to same-sex couple.

In the 7-2 decision written by U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court vacates the decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals against baker Jack Phillips on the basis the state commission handling his case displayed a religious bias against him.

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Kennedy wrestles with wedding cake case at Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON (AP) — His vote likely to decide the outcome, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy voiced competing concerns Tuesday about respecting the religious beliefs of a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and the gay couple’s dignity.

Kennedy, the author of all the court’s major gay-rights cases, worried early in a riveting argument at the high court that a ruling in favor of baker Jack Phillips might allow shop owners to put up signs saying “We do not bake cakes for gay weddings.”

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Masterpiece Cakeshop case is ‘about freedom’

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: The gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case says their case is about “freedom.” Washington Blade photo by Michael Key

The gay couple in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case on Tuesday said the issue is about equality.

This is about freedom, freedom for LGBT people to live full lives in public,” David Mullins told LGBT rights advocates who were gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Troubling signs for gays from Supreme Court in cakeshop arguments

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Supreme Court concluded arguments Tuesday in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case with no clear indication of whether it would rule as swing-vote U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed skepticism of the Colorado non-discrimination law, but also sent conflicting messages.

As the American Civil Liberties Union’s national legal director David Cole argued before the bench, Kennedy remarked the attorney’s claim the baker, Jack Phillips, denied a wedding cake to the same-sex couple based on their identity, rather than objections to same-sex marriage, was “too facile.”

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Same-sex marriage case before Supreme Court has ties to civil rights decision

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The upcoming Supreme Court argument about a baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple makes some civil rights lawyers think of South Carolina’s Piggie Park barbecue.

When two African-Americans parked their car at a Piggie Park drive-in in August 1964 in Columbia, South Carolina, the waitress who came out to serve them turned back once she saw they were black and didn’t take their order.

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Opponents in LGBT case agree: It’s not about wedding cake

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In a legal case with profound implications for LGBT rights and religion’s place in public life, the opposing sides agree on this: It’s not about the cake.

At its core, the case that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court for oral arguments on Dec. 5 is a showdown between a gay couple from Colorado and a Denver-area baker who in 2012 cited his Christian faith in refusing to make a cake for their wedding celebration.

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Speaker Ryan: ‘I haven’t given any thought’ to Cakeshop case

By : CHRIS JOHNSON OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had no comment Thursday on the pending Masterpiece Cakeshop lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court in which a baker is seeking a First Amendment right to deny wedding cakes to same-sex couples.

In response to a question from the Washington Blade on the litigation, Ryan was seemingly unaware of the lawsuit. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case Tuesday.

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ACLU, Colorado file briefs for gay couple in Masterpiece Cakeshop case

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Lawyers advocating for the gay couple who insist they should be able to purchase a wedding cake from a baker under Colorado law — whether the baker has religious objections or not — fired their opening salvo before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

In the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, a pair of opening briefs was submitted by Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which argues the court should uphold lower court decisions for Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Law, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the same-sex couple in the lawsuit, Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

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