New agreement ends litigation against Masterpiece Cakeshop

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Masterpiece Cakeshop — famed for its case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court after its owner refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple — has reached a new agreement with the State of Colorado to end subsequent litigation against him.

As part of the new agreement, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will withdraw its administrative action against owner Jack Phillips. The commission found probable cause the bakery violated state law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition for a transgender person’s birthday.

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Lawmaker sees 1st year as balance between district, identity

By : wire report
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DENVER (AP) | Democratic Rep. Brianna Titone made Colorado history in January as the state’s first transgender lawmaker. She’s one of only four trans state lawmakers in the country.

“That does kind of put a little bit of self-imposed pressure on myself to do the best that I can,” Titone said. “But, on the same token, I would have done that anyway.”

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Apopka transgender woman evicted, alleges discrimination from housing association

By : Abigail Brashear
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APOPKA, Fla. | A transgender woman of color and her husband were evicted from their mobile home in Apopka this month and claim discrimination from the Homeowners Association was a factor.

Tiara Kelley, 38, and her husband Robert Kelley, bought their Bayshore Chalet North mobile home in September. The couple bought the mobile home completely in cash, ensuring that their name was on the title of the home, and leased the lot that the mobile home was on with the Chalet North HOA.

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Proposed Denver conversion therapy ban for minors advances

By : wire report
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DENVER (AP) | Denver’s City Council will soon consider a ban on psychotherapy that seeks to change the sexual orientation of minors.

Denver’s Safety, Housing, Education and Homeless Committee voted Dec. 19 to send the proposal to the full council.

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Colorado baker back in court over 2nd LGBT bias allegation

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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.

A modest Jared Polis prepares to govern

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Outgoing Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) claimed a significant victory for the LGBT community on Election Day by becoming the first openly gay person elected governor in the United States.

Today, he remains focused on the work ahead — and decidedly modest about his LGBT milestone.

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Colorado teacher fundraising to bring LGBTQ training to her town

By : Wire Report
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) | Kelly Cook has been teaching in Greeley for 16 years and feels she’s always been an ally for her students. But Cook recently realized she hasn’t been doing enough.

Last summer, Cook went to a seminar run by two women at the University of Colorado Boulder: A Queer Endeavor.

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Transgender Colo. House candidate declares victory

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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A transgender woman declared victory in her race for the Colorado House of Representatives Nov. 10.

Media reports indicate Brianna Titone has nearly 400 more votes than her Republican opponent, Vicki Pyne, in the race to represent the state’s House District 27, which includes the Denver suburb of Arvada.

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Mother: Son killed self after he was bullied for being gay

By : wire report
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DENVER (AP) | Authorities say Denver Public Schools crisis counselors met with children at an elementary school after a 9-year-old student killed himself after he was reportedly bullied for being gay, the Denver Post reports.

The Post reports that the Denver Coroner’s Office confirmed Jamel Myles died by suicide on Thursday. DPS spokesman Will Jones says Jamel was a fourth-grader at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School.

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

By : wire report
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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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‘Make America Gay Again’ sign greets Pence in Colorado

By : wire report
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ASPEN, Colo. (AP) — Neighbors of the home where Vice President Mike Pence has been staying in Colorado this week have a message.

They’ve placed a rainbow-colored banner on a stone pillar at the end of the driveways to both homes near the posh ski resort of Aspen. The banner reads “Make America Gay Again” — a play on President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.”

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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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