Baker Back in Court After Colorado Claims He Discriminated by Declining to Make Cake Celebrating ‘Gender Transition’

Photo Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom

LAKEWOOD, Co. — The baker in Colorado whose case involving his refusal to make a cake for a same-sex “wedding” celebration is back in court after the Colorado Civil Rights Division has approved another man’s discrimination complaint against him, this time for declining to create a pink and blue cake to celebrate a “gender transition.”

Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop, contending that the Division has “doubled down” in its religious hostility toward the Christian baker.

“It is now clear that Colorado will not rest until Phillips either closes Masterpiece Cakeshop or agrees to violate his religious beliefs,” the legal challenge reads. “The state’s continuing efforts to target Phillips do not just violate the Constitution; they cross the line into bad faith. This court should put a stop to Colorado’s unconstitutional bullying.”

According to the determination letter submitted to Phillips in late June, last year, a man who identifies as a woman called Masterpiece Cakeshop and stated that he wanted to place an order for a custom cake. Debi Phillips, the wife of Jack Phillips, took the call and asked the man about the desired size of the cake, the requested flavors, and the date by which it would be needed.

“The complainant responded that [he] would need the cake … to serve 6-8 people, and wanted the cake to have a blue exterior and a pink interior,” the letter reads. “The complainant asserts that [he] ‘explained 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.'”

Realizing that the order would entail the creation of a custom cake reflecting the celebration of a so-called gender transition, Phillips advised that the business could not be of assistance. Her husband affirmed that the request could not be fulfilled.

“[T]he respondent will not make cakes that address the topic of sex changes or gender transitions,” the determination letter outlines. “He contends that he will not support a message that ‘promotes the idea that a person’s sex is anything other than an immutable God-given biological reality.'”

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The document states that Phillips doesn’t make custom cakes for any expression that is objectionable.

The Colorado Civil Rights Division consequently concluded that the complainant had standing for a claim of unlawful discrimination.

“The evidence thus demonstrates that the refusal to provide service to the complainant was based on the complainant’s transgender status,” the letter reads. “A claim of discriminatory denial of full and equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation has been established.”

Read the letter in full here.

However, Phillips and his attorneys state that the Division is wrong to continue to attempt to require Phillips to make cakes that convey messages that conflict with his Christian values.

“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 lawsuit reads.

It notes that the Division contrarily found that other bakeries committed no wrongdoing when a man named William Jack recently asked for the creation of a custom cake that included a design expressing objection to same-sex “marriage.”

“The Division made these determinations because the requested cakes included ‘wording and images [that the cake shop] deemed derogatory,'” the suit outlines. “The Division also made these determinations because the cake shops would not create cakes expressing the same message for any other customer.”

Similarly, Phillips won’t make custom cakes for any customer if the message is problematic. He has turned down cake orders demeaning homosexuals, and similarly refused an order celebrating a divorce. He will also not make cakes that would be racist, use profanity, promote drugs or alcohol, support abortion or euthanasia, or celebrate Satanism or Halloween.

“Phillips’s decisions on whether to create a custom cake do not focus on who the customer is, but instead depend on what the custom cake will express or celebrate,” the lawsuit explains. “Neither Phillips nor any staff member at Masterpiece Cakeshop asks customers about their protected characteristics, such as their race, faith, sexual orientation, or gender identity, because those characteristics do not matter to Phillips in deciding whether to accept a custom-cake order.”

“Phillips will not create such cakes no matter who requests them,” it notes. “Phillips believes that he would violate God’s commands if he were to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his religious beliefs.”

ADF is seeking both a declaratory judgment and an injunction preventing the Colorado Civil Rights Division from attempting to force Phillips to act contrary to his faith by using the law against him.

Read the legal challenge in full here.

“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,” said Senior Vice President of U.S. Legal Division Kristen Waggoner in a statement. “Neither Jack nor any other creative professionals should be targeted by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs.”

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