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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 17, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 33
Masterpiece Cakeshop redux: Colorado baker rejects Trans customer, sues state officials
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Masterpiece Cakeshop redux: Colorado baker rejects Trans customer, sues state officials

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, is escalating his beef with LGBT customers. After refusing to make a birthday cake for a Trans woman, he has filed suit against Colorado state officials, charging them with persecuting him for his religious beliefs.

On June 26, three weeks after the US Supreme Court narrowly upheld his right to reject a Gay couple wanting a wedding cake, Phillips refused to make a birthday cake for Autumn Scardina.

Scardina had asked for a cake that would be blue on the outside and pink on the inside, celebrating the fact that she had transitioned from male to female and that she had come out as a Trans person on her birthday.

According to Phillips's attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), he turned Scardina away because the custom cake would have expressed messages about sex and gender identity that conflict with his religious beliefs.

Scardina complained to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which found that there was probable cause to believe Masterpiece Cakeshop violated a Colorado civil rights statute by denying Scardina 'equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation.' The Commission then wrote Phillips a letter on June 28, ordering him and Scardina to enter into compulsory mediation.

Instead, Phillips turned to ADF attorneys - the same ones who handled his successful Supreme Court appeal - and sued the state's Civil Rights Commission and Gov. John Hickenlooper, alleging they are unfairly punishing him for his religious beliefs.

'The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the US Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,' said Kristen Waggoner, legal vice president of the ADF.

'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. Neither Jack nor any other creative professionals should be targeted by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs,' Waggoner continued in an August 15 press release.

ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said in the same release that Phillips 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,' Campbell said. '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.'

If the suit proceeds to the Supreme Court, as his previous case did, Phillips's latest legal maneuver might provide an opportunity for conservatives on the high court to consolidate their religious exemption to state and local civil rights laws protecting LGBT people.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the 7-2 Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, stated very plainly that the ruling was intended to be narrow.

'The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,' Kennedy wrote.

With Kennedy being replaced on the high court by - in all probability - Brett Kavanaugh, a more consistently conservative jurist, the ADF may be poised to get a definitive decision affirming the rights of business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers if they assert religious reasons.

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