Jun 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Judge: Colorado baker broke law by refusing to bake cake for trans woman

Photo of a cake shop with an art piece that says "Masterpiece Cakeshop" and an illustration of owner Jack Phillips

Masterpiece Cakeshop. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A Colorado baker violated the state's discrimination laws by refusing to bake a birthday cake for a trans woman because of religious beliefs, a Denver district court has found.

The intrigue: The Christian baker was the plaintiff in the 2018 Supreme Court case that held the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed hostility toward the baker because he refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Details: Denver attorney Autumn Scardina sued Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, in 2017 after he refused to bake her a custom cake with a pink and blue design celebrating her transition.

  • Phillips argued that making the cake would've sent the message that he celebrates a gender transition, even "if the message only goes to one person," per the ruling. He claimed religious freedom in denying the request.
  • Phillips' wife later admitted they would have made the cake if Scardina had not disclosed its sentiment, according to the court.

What they're saying: Judge A. Bruce Jones ordered Phillips to pay a $500 fine, the maximum amount for this kind of violation.

  • "[A]s multiple courts have confirmed, providing a product for an event does not 'inherently express a message about that' event," he wrote in his opinion.
  • "The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as 'others,'" he noted. "This case is about one such product—a pink and blue birthday cake—and not compelled speech."

What's next: Alliance Defending Freedom General Counsel Kristen Waggoner, who represents Phillips, said they will appeal the decision.

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