A Colorado baker who refused to serve a gay couple is back in federal court after he refused to bake a cake for a transgender woman.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission charges that Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, a Denver suburb, discriminated against Autumn Scardina last year when she wanted to celebrate her gender transition with a cake featuring pink colors inside and blue on the outside.
Phillips’ legal team is suing the state after they say he was the target of an “obvious setup” because he is Christian, according to the Associated Press. Phillips, seeking $100,000, accuses the state of violating his equal protection rights under the 14th Amendment and his freedom of religion.
The state sought a dismissal of the case, but Judge Wiley Y. Daniel of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado indicated that it would proceed.
According to the Associated Press, Phillips’ attorneys argue that their client “believes as a matter of religious conviction 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.”
Phillips is again represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian litigation group that backed him during the Supreme Court case known as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. ADF engages widely in litigation aimed at curbing LGBTQ rights advances.
In the earlier case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that states can ban businesses from discriminating against people, but noted that the baker was treated unfairly by members of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, several of whom, the court held, showed anti-religion bias.
This time around, Colorado Deputy Attorney General LeeAnn Morrill told Judge Daniel, the commission carefully avoided mentioning religion. Still, the judge quoted former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s statement that the commission had shown “hostility” toward religion in the wedding cake case.
The case will continue in February when a state hearing will determine the next step.