By Aaron Earls
Despite having a Supreme Court victory under his belt, Jack Phillips is facing legal ramifications again for refusing to bake a cake that he says violates his religious beliefs.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission found “probable cause” that Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, discriminated against someone who wanted a cake to celebrate a “transition from male to female.”
This is the second time the commission has cited Phillips. Previously, they found he discriminated against a same-sex couple for refusing to create their wedding cake.
After six years, the case made it’s way to the Supreme Court, where justices ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips and said the commission acted with “clear and impermissible hostility” toward to the baker’s faith.
However, on the day the Supreme Court agreed to hear his case a new issue entangled Phillips.
A lawyer called Masterpiece Cakeshop and asked for a birthday cake before explaining the cake would be to celebrate “the 7th anniversary of my transition from male to female.”
In the charge of discrimination filled with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the potential customer said Masterpiece Cakeshop made it clear “they do not make cakes celebrating gender changes.”
Masterpiece turned down the request because “it would have celebrated messages contrary to his religious belief that sex—that status of being male or female—is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perception or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed,” according to a lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom on Phillips’ behalf.
He said the bakery “serves all people—individuals of all races, faiths, sexual orientations, and gender identities—and will design and create custom cakes for anyone.”
Their decision on whether to bake a custom cake or not does not focus on who the customer is, but instead depends on what the custom cake will express or celebrate.
Masterpiece has turned down numerous cakes that Phillips sees as expressing beliefs contrary to his religious convictions, including some featuring satanic symbols, white-supremacy messages, sexually explicit materials, and drug use.
He believes some of the previously denied requests in the past year have come from the same transgender lawyer most recently asking for a transition celebration cake.
The state civil rights commission rejected Phillips’ claim in their ruling, stating that the evidence “demonstrates that the refusal to provide service to the [customer] was based on the [customer’s] transgender status.”
The commission actually cited the previous Supreme Court ruling against them in defense of their current citation of Masterpiece Cakeshop.
“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, senior vice president of U.S. legal division with ADF.
“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 ADF lawsuit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission states that the commission told the Supreme Court that businesses can reject orders “because they deem a particular product requested by a customer to be ‘offensive.’”
Previously, the commission applied that reasoning to determine there was no probable cause of discrimination when three other Colorado bakeries turned down requests from a Christian customer who said he wanted a cake that included Bible verses that illustrated an opposition to same-sex marriage.
While the Supreme Court ruling for Masterpiece Cakeshop was a victory, it was a limited one that doesn’t answer the core question: Does the law require Christian bakers to bake same-sex wedding cakes?
While legal experts seem unsure of how this will play out in the future, the public is divided about the issue right now.
About half of Americans (46 percent) believe businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop should be able to turn down a same-sex couple if the business owner’s faith objects to same-sex weddings. Half (48 percent) disagree, according to a recent survey from Public Religion Research Institute.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.