Jack Phillips back in court as Colorado demands he bake ‘gender-transition’ cake
DENVER, Colorado, August 15, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips’ June 4 victory at the U.S. Supreme Court failed to convince the state of Colorado to let him operate in accordance with his conscience, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) announced Wednesday.
Earlier this summer, the nation’s highest court ruled 7-2 that Colorado officials had discriminated against his religious beliefs while trying to force him to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding.” On June 26, the Denver Post reported that Autumn Scardina filed a complaint against Phillips for declining to bake a cake that would be pink on the inside and blue on the outside, to celebrate his “transition” from male to female.
Two days later, Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) director Aubrey Elenis wrote a letter concluding there was probable cause to conclude Phillips had unlawfully denied Scardina “equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation.” It ordered the two to enter compulsory mediation to reach an amicable resolution.
ADF, the religious liberty nonprofit that represented Phillips in his original case, responded by filing a federal lawsuit against Democrat Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state civil rights commission, accusing them of ignoring the Supreme Court’s ruling and continuing to discriminate against Phillips’ faith.
The suit accuses the state of embarking on a six-year “crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips … because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith.” It notes that the state previously admitted that bakers are free to refuse to create “specific design(s)” that convey messages with which they disagree.
Phillips and ADF are seeking an injunction barring the commission from further attempts to prosecute Phillips, a declaration that the commission violated his constitutional rights, and damages from Elenis for lost work time, profits, emotional distress, and harm to his reputation, the Daily Caller added.
“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,” ADF senior vice president of U.S. legal division Kristen Waggoner declared. “Even though Jack serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in violation of his deeply held beliefs, the government is intent on destroying him — something the Supreme Court has already told it not to do.”
“The arbitrary basis on which the state is applying its law makes clear that its officials are targeting Jack because they despise his religious beliefs and practices,” ADF senior counsel Jim Campbell added. “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.”
While conservatives and religious liberty advocates celebrated Phillips’ earlier win, others expressed concern that the narrow scope of outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion would embolden state bureaucrats to continue attempting to force religious businesses to serve LGBT events and messages.
ACLU attorney David Cole, who represented the gay couple that sued Phillips, wrote in the wake of the ruling that his side had “lost a battle but won the war,” interpreting Kennedy’s words to mean “states are free to require businesses, including bakers, to serve gay and lesbian customers equally, including in the provision of wedding cakes.” Cole went so far as to say “Charlie Craig and David Mullins could go right back into Masterpiece Cakeshop today and request a cake to celebrate their wedding anniversary.”
Just days after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a Phoenix city ordinance forcing a local wedding invitation business to serve same-sex unions, claiming that “eliminating discrimination constitutes a compelling interest” and accusing Joanna Duka and Breanna Koski’s Brush & Nib Studio of engaging in a “a blanket refusal of service to the LGBTQ community.” Like Phillips, Duka and Koski maintain they happily serve homosexual customers but merely refuse to endorse same-sex “weddings.”
Phillips’ latest trouble “should be a warning to all those who are complacent in this one-sided culture war that this is not, nor was it ever, about ‘live and let live,’” Conservative Review senior editor Daniel Horowitz wrote Wednesday. “That these culture warriors are bold enough to approach again the one man who just won a Supreme Court decision in a similar case demonstrates they will not let us live until we not only accept but participate in every degree of sexual licentiousnes.”
Horowitz chided conservative commentators who declared victory in June for “plac(ing) all their hopes in the courts,” and said Colorado’s latest aggression should “prompt us to push in Congress and in state legislatures civil rights legislation barring any policy forcing private organizations and businesses to violate their consciences.
“You can’t turn around a bad situation unless you fight for it, and you won’t fight for it so long as you think you’ve already won,” he warned.