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Anti-LGBTQ baker sues civil rights commission after he refuses to serve a trans customer

In this March 10, 2014, file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store in Lakewood, Colorado.
In this March 10, 2014, file photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store in Lakewood, Colorado. Photo: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips just won’t stop persecuting would-be customers – and suing the government when he gets caught. While his refusal to serve a gay couple seeking a wedding cake made national news, it isn’t the only time he’s refused to do business with an LGBTQ person and cited his devotion to a “loving” God as his reason.

Phillips was found to violated Colorado’s civil rights laws by refusing service to the gay couple and despite losing repeated appeals to state and federal courts, he managed to convince a majority of Supreme Court justices that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission didn’t take his “religious freedom” excuse seriously.

In private email exchanges, some commissioners expressed doubt that Phillip’s religious freedom claim was more than an attempt to use his religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the commission, saying they may have been prejudiced against Phillips. The Court noted that this ruling was specific to this case and not a blanket permission for discrimination.

The same month Phillips was battling in court for his ability to discriminate against gays and lesbians, he was also facing other allegations that he had refused to bake a cake for a transgender customer, Autumn Scardina. After losing that case as well, Phillips is taking the commission and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper to court.

“The state of Colorado is ignoring the message of the U.S. Supreme Court by continuing to single out Jack for punishment and to exhibit hostility toward his religious beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner of the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the legal organization representing the baker.

Yes, Phillips believes the government is persecuting him for enforcing longstanding civil rights law that he has repeatedly broken.

Scardina tried to order a pink cake with blue frosting to celebrate her birthday and the date she announced her transition. The cake “would have expressed messages about sex and gender identity that conflict with his religious beliefs” according to his lawyers.

In a ruling issued at the end of June, the commission decided the baker denied Scardina “equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation.” They ordered Phillips and Scardina into mediation to attempt to resolve the issue amicably.

Instead, Phillips has sued alleging he is the victim, in one of the most egregious examples of Christian Persecution Complex since the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom did not give Bob Jones University the right to claim tax-exempt status while practicing racial discrimination in the name of Jesus.

“Our state’s laws haven’t changed. Colorado’s nondiscrimination laws are still in place, and, in fact, they were upheld by the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece ruling this past June,” One Colorado Executive Director Daniel Ramos said in an emailed statement.

“We have seen the ADF launch similar lawsuits across the country that target nondiscrimination laws and civil rights agencies, and this broad lawsuit they filed on behalf of Jack Phillips reads as more of the same,” Ramos continued.

“What the ADF was looking for in the Masterpiece case was a license to discriminate, and they did not get that when the Supreme Court upheld Colorado’s nondiscrimination laws.”

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