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

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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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Proposed Denver conversion therapy ban for minors advances

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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.

Colorado Archbishop calls out Catholic school for supporting student drag show

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DENVER (AP) | The Catholic archbishop of Denver called out a local Jesuit-Catholic university’s provost for encouraging faculty to attend a student drag show.

The Denver Post reports Regis University Provost Janet Houser urged teachers to attend the show as a way of supporting LGBTQ students. Houser also suggested they avoid language that reinforces the gender binary — including saying “ladies and gentlemen.”

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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

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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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Pilot suspended over threat to Oklahoma transgender student

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) | Frontier Airlines says it has suspended a pilot accused of threatening on Facebook to harm a 12-year-old transgender girl for using the girls bathroom at her Oklahoma school.

Frontier spokesman Jonathan Freed said in a statement Monday that the pilot was suspended Aug. 13 pending an investigation into the alleged threats against the student in Achille (A’-chil-ee), a community about 160 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

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Federal court reopens intersex passport applicant case

By : Michael K. Lavers of the Washington Blade, Courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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A federal court in Denver on Tuesday reopened the case of an intersex person who sued the State Department after it denied them a passport.

Dana Zzyym, a U.S. Navy veteran who is the associate director of the U.S. affiliate of the Organization Intersex International, applied for a passport in 2014 in order to travel to Mexico City for a conference. The State Department told Zzyym it denied the passport application because it was “unable to fulfill your request to list your sex as “X.””

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Denver man arrested after castrating transgender woman in her apartment

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James Lowell Pennington (Denver Police).

DENVER (AP) – Police say a Colorado man without a medical license has been arrested after he allegedly used an Army surgical kit to castrate a transgender woman at her Denver apartment.

A police affidavit says James Lowell Pennington, 57, removed the testicles and sutured the opening while the woman’s wife witnessed the 90-minute procedure.

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Conservative group rejects gay GOP organization from event

By : Wire Report
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Denver (AP) — Organizers of a conservative conference in Denver this summer have told a gay Republican group it cannot have a booth at the event.

The Western Conservative Summit is scheduled for June in Denver, where thousands of conservative activists will gather to hear Republican presidential hopefuls like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum speak. The event is organized by The Centennial Institute, a think tank affiliated with Colorado Christian University.

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Baker faces complaint for refusing anti-gay message on cake

By : Wire Report
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DENVER (AP) — A dispute over a cake in Colorado raises a new question about gay rights and religious freedom: If bakers can be fined for refusing to serve married gay couples, can they also be punished for declining to make a cake with anti-gay statements?

A baker in suburban Denver who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding is fighting a legal order requiring him to serve gay couples even though he argued that would violate his religious beliefs.

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