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Transgender woman sues American baker for refusing to bake


DENVER –

A Colorado baker who secured part of a Supreme Court victory after refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple a decade ago for religious reasons is challenging a separate ruling. Notice that he violated state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to make a transgender celebration cake.

An attorney for Jack Phillips on Wednesday urged Colorado’s appeals court – largely on a procedural basis – to overturn a ruling last year in a case brought by a transgender woman.

The woman, Autumn Scardina, called Phillips’ Denver suburban cake shop in 2017 to request a birthday cake with a blue coating on the outside and pink on the inside to celebrate the transition. change her gender. At his trial last year, Phillips, a Christian, testified that he doesn’t think anyone can change gender and that he wouldn’t praise “someone who thinks they can”.

Jake Warner, an attorney representing Phillips from the conservative Christian legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, said the ruling was false. He said asking Phillips to create a cake with a message contrary to his religious beliefs meant forcing him to say something he didn’t believe in, infringing on his right to free speech. he.

Judge Timothy Schutz noted that Phillips’ wife initially told Scardina that the bakery could make the cake before Scardina volunteered that the design was meant to celebrate her gender transition.

One of Scardina’s attorneys, John McHugh, said Scardina didn’t ask the store to endorse her idea, just sell her a cake that they would sell to anyone else. He said whether Phillips sells cakes to anyone or not depends on what customers tell him when he makes cakes.

Both Scardina and Phillips spoke outside court about the larger issues involved. Scardina said the case concerns “the dignity of LGBTQ Americans and Coloradoans and the rule of law.” Phillips said he is fighting for the right of all Americans to live up to their conscience “without fear of punishment” by the government.

In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted with anti-religious prejudice in its enforcement of anti-discrimination laws against Phillips after he refused to bake a Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins’ wedding cake in 2012. Judges called the committee unfairly rejected Phillips’ religious beliefs.

The high court then did not rule on the larger issue of whether a business can invoke religious objections to refuse to serve LGBTQ people. But it will get another chance when they hear of another case in the coming months challenging Colorado’s anti-discrimination laws.

The case involved Denver-area designer Lorie Smith, who wanted to provide wedding website services but said her Christian beliefs would lead her to turn down any wedding website design requests. from a same-sex couple. She also wanted to post a statement on her website about her beliefs but said that Colorado’s law violated her right to freedom of speech and religion.

In agreeing to hear it, the Supreme Court said it would only consider the issue of free speech.

Smith is also protected by the Alliance to Defend Freedom. Phillips’ attorneys unsuccessfully asked the Colorado court of appeals to delay hearing the arguments in his challenge until after the Supreme Court has ruled in Smith’s case.

Scardina, a lawyer, tried to order her cake on the exact date in 2017 that the Supreme Court announced it would hear Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case. Scardina testified that she wanted to “challenge the authenticity” of Phillips’ claims that he would serve LGBT customers.

Before filing the lawsuit, Scardina first filed a complaint against Phillips with the state and the civil rights commission, which found that Phillips might have discriminated against her. Phillips later filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado, alleging it was a “crusade to crush” him by pursuing the suit.

In March 2019, state attorneys general and Phillips agreed to drop both cases under a settlement that Scardina was not involved in. Warner told the appellate court panel that Scardina must appeal to the state court of appeals before filing the lawsuit and – since she hasn’t – the ruling against Phillips should be dropped because the state court judge, the person who heard the case did not have jurisdiction.

McHugh argued the settlement was inconclusive on Scardina’s claims of discrimination so there was nothing to stop her from filing a lawsuit against Phillips to pursue it.

After hearing the case last year, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones dismissed Phillips’ argument that making the pie would make for a compelling speech, saying it was simply a products sold by a business that cannot be kept for traditional people. unfair treatment and are protected by state anti-discrimination laws. He said Phillips’ decision not to provide the cake was “inextricably linked” with his refusal to recognize Scardina as a woman.

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