Jack Phillips refused to make a cake for a gay couple at his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. (Reuters: Rick Wilking)
The US baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds is facing a fresh lawsuit — this time for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.
- Jack Phillips refused to bake a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside
- His lawyers say it’s an “obvious set-up” on the back of his refusal to make a gay wedding cake
- The gay wedding cake has come to symbolise the tension between First Amendment and equal rights
Lawyers for Jack Phillips, of Colorado, argued the state was treating Mr Phillips with hostility because of his Christian faith and pressing a complaint that they labelled an “obvious set-up”.
Transgender lawyer Autumn Scardina called Mr Phillips’s bakery, Masterpiece Cakeshop, in 2017, requesting a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside.
Mr Phillips’s shop refused to make the cake after Ms Scardina revealed she wanted it to celebrate her transition from male to female.
“[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,” his lawyers said.
Transgender lawyer Autumn Scardina, centre, was refused a pink and blue cake to celebrate her gender transition. (Facebook: Scardina Law)
But the Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Mr Phillips had discriminated against Ms Scardina because she is transgender.
Ms Scardina asked for the cake on the same day the US Supreme Court announced it would consider Mr Phillips’s appeal of the previous commission ruling against him after he refused to bake a cake for same-sex couple Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012.
Mr Phillips’s lawsuit claims he has been harassed and has received death threats and that his small shop was vandalised while the wedding cake case made its way through the courts.
“At this point, he’s just a guy who is trying to get back to life,” said Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Christian non-profit law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.
“The problem is the state of Colorado won’t let him.”
Charlie Craig and David Mullins had asked Jack Phillips to make their wedding cake. (AP: David Zalubowski)
Religious beliefs vs equal rights
The Supreme Court ruled in June that the Colorado commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Mr Phillips for refusing to make the gay wedding cake, voting 7-2 that it violated Mr Phillips’s First Amendment rights.
But the court did not rule on the larger issue of whether businesses can invoke religious objections to refuse service to people who are part of the LGBTQ community.
Mr Phillips’s 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.
In the case of the transgender cake, 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.