Colorado baker loses appeal over transgender birthday cake

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado baker who won a partial victory in the U.S. Supreme Court after refusing to bake a gay couple’s wedding cake because of his Christian faith lost an appeal Thursday in his latest legal fight, involving her rejection of a birthday cake request to celebrate a gender transition.

The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the Autumn Scardina cake requested from Jack Phillips and Masterpiece Cakeshop, which was to be pink with blue icing, was not a form of speech.

He also found that state law that makes it illegal to deny services to people based on protected characteristics such as race, religion, or sexual orientation does not violate the right of business owners practice or express their religion.

Relying on the findings of a Denver judge during a 2021 trial in the dispute, the appeals court said Phillips’ shop initially agreed to make the cake, but then declined after Scardina explained that she was going to use it to celebrate her transition from male to female. .

“We conclude that the creation of a pink cake with blue frosting is not inherently expressive and that any message or symbolism it provides to an observer would not be attributed to the baker,” the court said, which also held rejected Phillips’ procedural arguments.

Phillips, who is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, maintains that the cakes he creates are a form of speech and plans to appeal.

“It is not necessary to 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” , ADF lead attorney Jake Warner said in a statement.

John McHugh, one of the attorneys representing Scardina, said the court carefully considered all of the arguments and evidence in the trial.

“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,” he said of of Phillips and its shop.

In 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted with anti-religious bias in enforcing anti-discrimination law against Phillips after he refused to bake a cake celebrating Phillips’ wedding. Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012. The judges called the commission an unjust disregard for Phillips’ religious beliefs.

The High Court did not rule then on the broader question of whether a company can raise religious objections to refuse to serve LGBTQ people, but it has another chance to do so.

Last year, he heard another case challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, brought by a Christian graphic designer who doesn’t want to design wedding websites for same-sex couples. Lorie Smith, who is also represented by ADF, says the law violates her freedom of speech.

Scardina, a lawyer, attempted to order her cake on the same day in 2017 that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case. During the trial, she testified that she wanted to “challenge the veracity” of Phillips’ statements that he would serve LGBTQ customers.

Before filing his lawsuit, Scardina first filed a complaint against Phillips with the state and civil rights commission, which found probable cause that he had discriminated against him.

Phillips then filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado, accusing it of a “crusade to crush it” by pursuing the lawsuit.

In March 2019, attorneys for the state and Phillips agreed to drop both cases as part of a settlement in which Scardina was not involved. She pursued the lawsuit against Phillips and Masterpiece on her own.