Jack Phillips returns to court and fights to rule on gender transition cake

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Jack Phillips returns to court and fights to rule on gender transition cake
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DENVER — The Colorado baker who won a partial victory in the Supreme Court after refusing on religious grounds to bake a gay couple’s wedding cake a decade ago is challenging a separate ruling that he broke the law state anti-discrimination by refusing to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.

A lawyer for Jack Phillips on Wednesday urged the Colorado 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 suburban Denver’s Phillips Bakery in 2017 asking for a birthday cake with blue frosting on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate her gender transition. At last year’s trial, Phillips, a Christian, testified that he didn’t think anyone could change sex and that he wouldn’t celebrate “someone who thinks they can”.

Jake Warner, a lawyer representing Phillips from the conservative Christian legal defense group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the decision was wrong. He said demanding Phillips create a cake with a message contrary to his religious beliefs is like forcing him to say something he doesn’t believe, violating his right to free speech.

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

One of Scardina’s lawyers, John McHugh, said Scardina did not ask the store to approve his idea, but simply sold him a cake that he would sell to anyone else. He said whether or not Phillips sells a cake to someone cannot depend on what the customer tells him when he makes the cake.

Both Scardina and Phillips have spoken outside of court about the larger issues at stake. Scardina said the case is about the “dignity of LGBTQ Americans and Coloradans and the rule of law.” Phillips said he fights for the rights of all Americans to live according to their conscience “without fear of punishment” by the government.

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

The High Court did not rule then on the broader issue of whether a company can raise religious objections to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. But he’ll get another chance when he hears a different case in the coming months challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

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

In agreeing to take up the case, the Supreme Court said it would only consider the issue of freedom of expression.

Smith is also defended by Alliance Defending Freedom. Phillips’ attorneys unsuccessfully asked the Colorado Court of Appeals to delay hearing arguments in his challenge until the Supreme Court rules in the Smith case.

Scardina, a lawyer, 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 that she wanted to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips’ statements that he would serve LGBT customers.

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