The Slatest

Masterpiece Cakeshop Owner Sues State of Colorado Over Treatment After Refusing to Make Transgender Birthday Cake

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips speaks into microphones in front of the U.S. Supreme Court December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips in front of the U.S. Supreme Court December 5, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo. could be headed back to court just months after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of shop owner Jack Phillips for his 2012 refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple due to his religious objection to same-sex marriage. The court, however, ruled narrowly on the issue, largely punting on determining the underlying constitutional balance between individual religious objections to same-sex marriage and the rights of gay people. On Tuesday, Phillips and his cake shop filed suit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission alleging religious discrimination for another incident at the Masterpiece Cakeshop, this time involving a cake for a transgender customer.

From the Washington Post:

 In June 2017, Colorado lawyer Autumn Scardina called Masterpiece Cakeshop to request a custom cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside. The occasion, Scardina told the bakery’s employees, was to celebrate her birthday, as well as the seventh anniversary of the day she had come out as transgender. Masterpiece Cakeshop ultimately refused Scardina’s order on religious grounds.

“Phillips declined to create the cake with the blue-and-pink design because it would have celebrated messages contrary to his religious belief 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,” the complaint stated.

More than a year after the incident, and just two weeks after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in favor of Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that Phillips refusal to make the cake for the transgender customer likely constituted discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

In response, Phillips “sued Gov. John Hickenlooper, the attorney general and state civil rights officials in U.S. District Court in Denver late Tuesday, claiming the state has renewed its ‘crusade’ against him,” the Denver Post reports. “Tuesday’s lawsuit reignites years of legal debate over how religious beliefs should be considered under Colorado’s public accommodation law. The 2008 state law forbids businesses from discriminating against customers on a variety of grounds including sexual orientation and gender.”

“The state of 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,” Kristen Waggoner from Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal nonprofit representing Phillips, told the Denver Post.