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Baker who refused to make cake for same-sex couple sued again for refusing gender transition cake

"This isn't about Mr. Phillips' religion. His religious beliefs are noble, are his and his alone. This is about businesses and whether or not businesses are allowed to treat customers on a different basis based upon protected characteristics," the trans attorney testified.

Baker who refused to make cake for same-sex couple sued again for refusing gender transition cake
Cover Image Source: Conservative Christian baker Jack Phillips after the court heard the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission December 5, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A Colorado baker once at the center of a US Supreme Court case for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple is now being sued for denying an order for a gender transition birthday cake. According to The Associated Press, Jack Phillips — the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood — went on trial Monday for refusing to make the cake for a trans woman. Autumn Scardina reportedly attempted to place an order for a birthday cake on the same day in 2017 that the high court announced it would hear Phillips' appeal in the wedding cake case. 



 

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases around the country that pit LGBTQ rights against merchants' religious objections. Scardina, an attorney, is said to have requested a cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside in honor of her gender transition. During a virtual trial being conducted by a state judge in Denver, Scardina said the conservative baker had maintained that although he opposed making the gay couple's wedding cake as a Christian because it involved a religious ceremony, he would sell any other type of product. She explained that she called Phillips' Masterpiece Cakeshop to place an order for a cake to find out if he really meant it.



 

When asked by her lawyer, Paula Greisen, whether the call was a "setup," Scardina said that wasn't the case. "I don't like that phrase. I think it's got a negative connotation. Nor do I associate it was a test, it wasn't a test," she testified, reports Fox News. "More of a challenge of the veracity. It was more a calling of somebody's bluff. I wanted Mr. Phillips to be telling the truth. I think he's a good man. I think he is a good Christian; and I think his beliefs are noble, valid, are entitled to protection. I believe that he is being genuine in what he feels is his truth."



 

In opening arguments, Sean Gates — a lawyer representing Phillips — said that his client's refusal to make Scardina's cake was about its message and not discriminating against her.  With Phillips getting media attention following the legal battle over his refusal to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012, he could not create a cake with a message he disagreed with, Gates said. "The message would be that he agrees that a gender transition is something to be celebrated," said Gates, adding later that Phillips has also objected to making cakes with other messages he opposed, including Halloween.



 

Meanwhile, Scardina reportedly also stressed the significance of the lawsuit. "To me, it's fundamental to our civil society. If I understand his claim and his beliefs correctly, it's that he can opt out of laws that he disagrees with," Scardina testified. "And to see somebody stand up as a very prominent public figure for this notion that you can defy secular law just by claiming a religious exemption, that's deeply offensive to me. And it's a principle that needs clarification in my mind."



 

"This isn't about Mr. Phillips' religion. His religious beliefs are noble, are his and his alone," she added. "This is about businesses and whether or not businesses are allowed to treat customers on a different basis based upon protected characteristics." Before filing her lawsuit, Scardina has filed a complaint against the baker with the state, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found probable cause that Phillips had discriminated against her. However, Phillips then filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado, accusing the state of waging a "crusade to crush" him by pursuing the complaint. Lawyers for the state and Phillips agreed to drop both cases under a settlement in March 2019. 

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