News (USA)

Anti-LGBTQ+ baker loses appeal when court rules he discriminated against trans woman

A pink cake with blue frosting
Photo: Shutterstock

A Christian baker who has spent years fighting for the right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people has lost his appeal in a case about his refusal to make a cake for someone celebrating their gender transition.

In 2021, a Colorado judge in Denver ruled that Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop illegally discriminated against Autumn Scardina when he refused to make her a birthday cake because she’s transgender, arguing that baking the cake violates his religious beliefs.

The Colorado Court of Appeals announced its decision that the cake is not a form of speech and that Phillips’s refusal to serve someone because she’s trans violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law.

The court stated: “We conclude that creating a pink cake with blue frosting is not inherently expressive and any message or symbolism it provides to an observer would not be attributed to the baker.”

“They just object to the idea of Ms. Scardina wanting a birthday cake that reflects her status as a transgender woman because they object to the existence of transgender people,” said Scardina’s lawyer, John McHugh, according to the Associated Press.

Phillips is represented by the anti-LGBTQ+ organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a Southern Poverty Law Center designated hate group.

“One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that all Americans should be free to say what they believe, even if the government disagrees with those beliefs,” stated ADF senior counsel Jake Warner in response to the ruling.

Phillips originally made headlines after he refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple in 2012 and was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. He claimed that his religious beliefs prevented him from selling a cake that would be used in a same-sex couple’s wedding. He appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which gave him a partial victory but didn’t say Christians don’t have to follow anti-discrimination laws.

Throughout the years-long process, Phillips repeatedly said that his issue wasn’t gay people’s identity, but that his products would be used at a same-sex couple’s wedding. He said that selling products that would be used at an event he disagreed with was an endorsement of marriage equality in general. He could not be forced to endorse something he disagrees with because of the First Amendment.

He repeatedly said that he would make a birthday cake for anyone, so Scardina decided to ask him for just that: a birthday cake. She said she believed him when he said he would make a birthday cake for anyone, and she wanted it to be blue on the outside and pink inside.

Scardina said that Phillips was fine with her order when she requested it in June 2017 until she mentioned that she’s transgender and the meaning that the colors have for her. Phillips allegedly told her that he “did not make cakes for ‘sex changes.’”

She filed a discrimination complaint and later sued Masterpiece Cakeshop.

In 2021, Phillips said that the cake would celebrate “somebody who thinks that they can” live differently than the sex they were assigned at birth.

But the Denver judge disagreed. Phillips was fine with making the cake and selling it to Scardina before he knew she was trans but changed his mind when he found out, showing that his issue was her identity and not the product itself. If a cake that’s blue on the outside and pink on the inside is an act of speech, it shouldn’t have mattered that Scardina is trans.

At the time, ADF stated that “radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions.”

Don't forget to share:

Good News is your section for queer joy! Subscribe to our newsletter to get the most positive and fun stories from the site delivered to your inbox every weekend. Send us your suggestions for uplifiting and inspiring stories.

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Failed gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano plans to introduce a drag ban bill

Previous article

George Santos accused of faking man’s signature on campaign finance forms

Next article