The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who became notorious after a lawsuit against him for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple went to the U.S. Supreme Court, finds himself back in litigation — this time because his bakery wouldn’t make a cake celebrating the transition of a transgender person.
Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBT legal firm that represented Phillips in the wedding cake lawsuit, announced on Wednesday it has sued the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for finding probable case he violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act for refusing to make the cake.
Kristen Waggoner, senior vice president of the U.S. legal division at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement Colorado is “ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs.”
“Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him — something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do,” Waggoner said. “Neither Jack nor any other creative professionals should be targeted by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs.”
Phillips finds himself back in court after the Supreme Court in June issued a narrow ruling in his favor after he was sued for refusing to make a wedding cake in 2012 for the same-sex marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins. The Supreme Court found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had an anti-religion bias when adjudicating the case, therefore the ruling against him was vacated, although the Colorado non-discrimination law and its LGBT protections remained in place.
According to ADF, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission has found probable cause had yet again engaged in anti-LGBT discrimination by refusing to make a birthday cake celebrating a gender transition.
In a complaint dated July 20 and made public by ADF, the complainant, Autumn Scardina, declared she was transsexual, requested a birthday cake with a blue exterior and pink interior to celebrate her transition, but was denied by a female employee on the basis of religious objections.
According to the complaint, Scardina was “stunned” by the response, asserted the phone was disconnected and when she called back, was hung up on. When she called back again and asked for the employee’s name, she asserts she again was hung up on.
“I believe that other people who request birthday cakes get to select the color and theme of the cake,” Scardina writes. “I believe that I was not allowed to order a birthday cake because I requested that its color and theme celebrate my transition from male to female. The woman on the phone told me they do not make cakes celebrating gender changes.”
ADF also made public the determination made by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission dated June 28 finding probable cause Phillips engaged in unlawful anti-LGBT discrimination for refusing to make the cake.
“The respondents asserts that it will not provide the service of creating cakes that ‘promote the idea a person’s sex is anything other than an immutable God-given biological reality,’” the complaint says. “The evidence thus demonstrates that the refusal to provide service to the complainant was based on the complainant’s transgender status. A claim of discriminatory denial of full and equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation has been established.”
On Wednesday, ADF announced it has filed a federal lawsuit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for continued hostility to Phillips and his religious belief for finding probable cause against him, arguing the finding defies the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
“For over six years now, Colorado has been on a crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips…because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith,” the lawsuit says. “After Phillips defended himself all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won, he thought Colorado’s hostility toward his faith was over. He was wrong. Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him, in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor.”
The filing points out the State of Colorado admitted in a filing before the Supreme Court in the same-sex wedding cake case a baker “may refuse service for many reasons, including the specific design of a requested product” and not be in violation of state law.
“The arbitrary basis on which the state is applying its law makes clear that its officials are targeting Jack because they despise his religious beliefs and practices,” ADF senior counsel Jim Campbell said in court. “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.”
Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, criticized ADF in a statement for filing the lawsuit, accusing the legal firm of looking for another opportunity for a court ruling asserting a First Amendment right to refuse service to LGBT people.
“What the ADF was looking for in the Masterpiece case was a license to discriminate, and they did not get that when the Supreme Court upheld Colorado’s nondiscrimination laws,” Ramos said. “This is another attempt by the ADF to undermine laws that protect Coloradans in the areas of public accommodations, employment, and housing. These laws reflect our state’s values of fairness and equality for all, and Colorado will not stand for this latest attack on civil rights protections.”