AP

Colorado baker fighting ruling over gender transition cake

Oct 5, 2022, 5:37 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 12:50 am

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado baker who won a partial Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple’s wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.

A lawyer for Jack Phillips on Wednesday urged Colorado’s appeals court — largely on procedural grounds — to overturn last year’s ruling in a lawsuit brought by a transgender woman.

The woman, Autumn Scardina, called Phillips’ suburban Denver cake shop in 2017 requesting a birthday cake that had blue frosting on the outside and was pink inside to celebrate her gender transition. At trial last year, Phillips, a Christian, testified he did not think someone could change genders and he would not celebrate “somebody who thinks that they can.”

Jake Warner, an attorney representing Phillips from the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the ruling was wrong. He said requiring Phillips to create a cake with a message contrary to his religious beliefs amounts to forcing him to say something he does not believe, violating his right to free speech.

Judge Timothy Schutz noted Phillips’ wife initially told Scardina the bakery could make the cake before Scardina volunteered that the design was meant to celebrate her gender transition.

One of Scardina’s lawyers, John McHugh, said Scardina did not ask the shop to endorse her idea, just sell her a cake that they would sell anyone else. He said whether or not Phillips sells a cake to someone cannot depend on what the client tells him when he is making the cake.

Both Scardina and Phillips spoke outside the court of larger issues involved. Scardina said the case was about the “dignity of LGBTQ Americans and Coloradans and the rule of law.” Phillips said he was fighting for the rights of all Americans to live according to their consciences “without fear of punishment” by government.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with anti-religious bias in enforcing the anti-discrimination law against Phillips after he refused to bake a cake celebrating the wedding of Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012. The justices called the commission unfairly dismissive of Phillips’ religious beliefs.

The high court did not rule then on the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBTQ people. But it will get another chance when it hears a different case in coming months challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

The case involves Denver-area designer Lorie Smith, who wants to offer wedding website services but says her Christian beliefs would lead her to decline any request from a same-sex couple to design a wedding website. She also wants to post a statement on her website about her beliefs but says Colorado’s law violates her free speech and religious rights.

In agreeing to take the case, the Supreme Court said it would only examine the free speech issue.

Smith is also defended by Alliance Defending Freedom. Phillips’ lawyers unsuccessfully asked Colorado’s appeals court to delay hearing arguments in his challenge until after the Supreme Court rules in Smith’s case.

Scardina, an attorney, attempted to order her cake on the same day in 2017 that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case. Scardina testified she wanted to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips statements that he would serve LGBT customers.

Before filing suit, Scardina first filed a complaint against Phillips with the state and the civil rights commission, which found probable cause that Phillips had discriminated against her. Phillips then filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado, accusing it of a “crusade to crush” him by pursuing the complaint.

In March 2019, lawyers for the state and Phillips agreed to drop both cases under a settlement Scardina was not involved in. Warner told the appeals court panel that Scardina was required to appeal to the state appeals court first before filing a lawsuit and — since she did not — the ruling against Phillips should be thrown out because the state court judge who heard the lawsuit did not have jurisdiction.

McHugh argued the settlement did not reach a conclusion on Scardina’s discrimination claim so there was nothing to stop her from filing a lawsuit against Phillips to pursue it.

After trial of the lawsuit last year, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones rejected Phillips’ argument that making the cake would constitute compelled speech, saying it was simply a product sold by a business that couldn’t be withheld from people who have traditionally been treated unfairly and are protected by the state’s anti-discrimination law. He said Phillips’ decision not to provide the requested cake was “inextricably intertwined” with his refusal to recognize Scardina as a woman.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

7 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

8 days ago

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, right, and Kenya's Defense Minister Aden Duale, left, listen during...

Associated Press

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hospitalized with bladder issue

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized following symptoms pointing to an “emergent bladder issue."

9 days ago

Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church, stands with his wife, Victoria Osteen, as he conducts a...

Associated Press

Woman firing rifle killed by 2 off-duty officers at Houston’s Lakewood Church run by Joel Osteen

A woman entered the Texas megachurch of Joel Osteen and started shooting with a rifle Sunday and was killed by two off-duty officers.

10 days ago

(Pexels photo)...

Associated Press

Baby in Kansas City, Missouri, dies after her mother mistakenly put her in an oven

An infant in Missouri died when her mother mistakenly put her down for a nap in an oven, a prosecutor said Saturday.

10 days ago

Former Arizona Department of Corrections boss Charles Ryan received probation on Feb. 9, 2024. (AP ...

Associated Press

Former Arizona corrections boss sentenced to probation over armed 2022 standoff with police

Former Arizona Corrections Director Charles Ryan was sentenced Friday to probation for his no-contest plea to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from a 2022 armed standoff at his Tempe home.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

...

FanDuel

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]

Colorado baker fighting ruling over gender transition cake