A Colorado baker at the center of a court battle after he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple is back in court after again refusing to make a cake celebrating a customer’s gender transition.
Lawyers for Jack Phillips have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that state is punishing him over the refusal to make a gender transition cake. As the Associated Press reported, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop just outside of Denver claims that the state is treating him with hostility because of his Christian faith and believed that the latest accusations were a “setup” against him.
Last year, Phillips had declined to make a cake for Denver attorney Autumn Scardina because she is transgender. She had requested a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate her transition to becoming a woman.
Phillips had previously been targeted by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the commission showed anti-religious bias when it sanctioned Phillips, saying it violated his First Amendment rights.
The case generated nationwide attention, but the court did not rule on the legality of business owners refusing service on the basis of their religious beliefs, leaving the issue unsettled.
Phillips is again seeking relief from the commission, claiming that he has been harassed and received death threats.
“At this point, he’s just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won’t let him,” Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said after a federal court hearing this week.
In his lawsuit, Jack Phillips claimed that he is willing to serve everyone, but cannot make custom cakes that violate his own religious beliefs.
“All people — no matter who they are, what they believe, or what protected characteristics they have — are welcome in Phillips’ shop and may purchase anything available for sale,” the lawsuit continued.
“But as a devout man of faith, Phillips cannot create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his religious beliefs.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian non-profit group, is spearheading the lawsuit claiming “unconstitutional bullying” from state officials. As the Gazette reported, they have filed suit against Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, the state’s Division of Civil Rights, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.