Christian baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, is facing yet another lawsuit over his refusal to make custom cakes to celebrate events or ideas that violate his Biblical beliefs.
Autumn Scardina, a biological man who identifies as a woman, filed the lawsuit, claiming that Phillips violated Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act and Consumer Protection Act by refusing to bake what the plaintiff called a “birthday cake.”
The “birthday cake” as described in the lawsuit was to be blue on the outside and pink on the inside to symbolize Scardina’s transition from male to female. Scardina admits he knew that Phillips did not make cakes for “sex changes,” but doesn’t understand why his request was denied since the cake was for a “birthday celebration.”
In a letter written by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, it was revealed that Scardina explained to Jack Phillips’ wife, Debi, that “the design was a reflection of the fact that he transitioned from male to female and that he had come out as transgender on his birthday.”
Scardina had originally enlisted the help of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in filing a previous complaint over this same incident. Phillips in turn sued the state, claiming he was being singled out for his Christian faith. The Commission and Phillips both agreed to drop their cases in March, with Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser stating that “both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases.”
Instead of letting the issue lie, Scardina decided to pursue separate litigation. “By filing separately, we are taking the state out of the equation,” said Scardina’s attorney, Paula Greisen.
“A new lawsuit has been filed against Masterpiece Cakeshop that appears to largely rehash old claims,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jim Campbell told Colorado Public Radio. “The State of Colorado abandoned similar ones just a few months ago. So this latest attack by Autumn Scardina looks like yet another desperate attempt to harass cake artist Jack Phillips. And it stumbles over the one detail that matters most: Jack serves everyone; he just cannot express all messages through his custom cakes.”
Last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ favor, 7-2, in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The high court ruled that the state commission was wrong to punish Phillips for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake by virtue of its hostility toward Phillips’ religious beliefs instead of neutrality.
“To describe a man’s faith as ‘one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use’ is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial or even insincere,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority.
He added: “This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s anti-discrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.”
Phillips has turned down cakes meant to demean homosexuals, as well as cakes that celebrate divorce. He also refuses to make cakes that would be considered racist, use profanity, promote drugs or alcohol, support abortion or euthanasia, or celebrate Satanism or Halloween.
Photo: AP/David Zalubowsk