Owner of Lakewood bakery sues state

A new cake has again put Masterpiece Cakeshop at the center of the religious freedom debate

Posted 8/15/18

Jack Phillips, the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his religious beliefs, is back in the news again. 

Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in …

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Owner of Lakewood bakery sues state

A new cake has again put Masterpiece Cakeshop at the center of the religious freedom debate


Jack Phillips was catapulted into the national spotlight when he refused to make a cake for a gay couple, because of his religious beliefs. The Lakewood baker won a highly publicized, but narrowly worded United States Supreme Court case decision in June, but his days in court are not over.

Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, has sued Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and state civil rights officials, alleging that the state has “been on a crusade to crush (Phillips) because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith,” according to a complaint filed Aug. 14.

His latest case stems from June 2017 when Autumn Scardina, an attorney from Arvada, called the cake shop and asked them to bake a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside. The cake was meant to symbolize her transition from male to female, and Scardina said the employee who she was speaking to hung up the phone when she said what the cake meant. Phillips denied the request, because of what the cake would have symbolized, and he felt it would have gone against his religious beliefs, according to a statement from the Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm defending Phillips. The day Scardina made the call to Masterpiece Cakeshop was the same day that the Supreme Court agreed to take up the Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission case regarding Phillips refusing to bake the cake for the gay couple.

MORE: Read the charge of discrimination

The state notified Phillips that it found probable cause that Colorado law requires his business to bake the cake for Scardina, only weeks after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor for refusing to do business with a gay couple in 2012. Scardina officially filed the complaint in July of 2017 to the Colorado Division of Civil Rights.

“I believe that other people who request birthday cakes get to select the color and theme of the cake. I believe that I was not allowed to order a birthday cake because I requested that its color and theme celebrate my transition from male to female,” Scardina said in the complaint. The complaint indicates that her upcoming birthday would mark the seventh anniversary of her transition.

Phillips’ court case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The lawsuit is asking Colorado officials to stop punishing Phillips for declining to create cake messages that violate his faith. Phillips’ lawyers will wait for the defendants to respond to the lawsuit, and their response can take up to one month.

“(The day Scardina called) was a busy, kind of crazy day. We tried to explain that we’d do any other custom work, or sell any other cakes we had in the shop. That was a cake, because of the message, that we couldn’t create,” Phillips said.

The lawsuit names a number of Colorado officials, including Hickenlooper, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Colorado Civil Rights Commission members Jessica Pocock, Miguel “Michael” Rene Elias, Anthony Aragon, Carol Fabrizio, Charles Garcia, Rita Lewis and Colorado Civil Rights Division Aubrey Elenis.

Hickenlooper told the media that he wasn’t involved in the commission’s ruling regarding Phillips and Scardina, but he does expect the case to go to the Supreme Court.

“The first ruling from the Supreme Court did not address the (religious freedom matter), Hickenlooper said. “That’s what I think the U.S. Supreme Court will have to address with time.”

Daniel Ramos, executive director of One Colorado, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ people and their families in Colorado, said the ADF has tried to launch similar lawsuits in the past that targeted laws and civil rights agencies.

“All people — including LGBTQ people — deserve to be served equally in public spaces, and no religious belief gives anyone the right to pick and choose whom they serve and what laws they want to follow,” Ramos said.

ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell said it’s clear that state officials are targeting Phillips, because they “despise his religious beliefs and practices.”

“Jack shouldn’t have to fear government hostility when he opens his shop for business each day. We’re asking the court to put a stop to that,” Campbell said.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Jack Phillips, lakewood Colorado, Hickenlooper, Autumn Scardina, transgender, religious freedom, ACLU


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