On Tuesday, the attorneys for Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who would not make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his devout Christian religious beliefs, lambasted the state of Colorado for continuing to target him for his beliefs.
The remarks in federal court by lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the organization that represents Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop, were triggered by another case filed against Phillips, this time from a transgender woman who wanted him to create a cake celebrating his “gender transition.”
After the hearing, Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, stated, "At this point, he's just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won't let him,” as ABC 7 reported.
Before the hearing occurred, Campbell stated:
The same agency that the Supreme Court rebuked as hostile to Jack Phillips remains committed to treating him unequally and forcing him to express messages that violate his religious beliefs. Jack serves all customers, and he is even happy to serve the attorney who lodged the complaint against him. But Jack doesn’t create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held beliefs. One current commissioner has publicly referred to Jack as a ‘hater’ on Twitter, one of several indications of the commission’s ongoing bias against Jack and his beliefs. We’re asking the federal court to immediately stop Colorado’s efforts to punish Jack in order to shield him from a biased agency and ensure that he is not forced to express messages that violate his faith.
ABC 7 noted, “The Colorado Civil Rights Commission said Phillips discriminated against Denver attorney Autumn Scardina because she's transgender. Phillips' shop refused to make a cake last year that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside after Scardina revealed she wanted it to celebrate her transition from male to female.”
Here’s the background for the latest attempts to harass Phillips:
On June 26, 2018, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it would hear Phillips’ case against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which revolved around him turning down a request to make the wedding cake for the gay couple in 2012. After he was targeted by the state of Colorado, Phillips was barred from designing custom wedding cakes, which, as ADF notes, represented around 40% of his business. ADF also notes that one of the commissioners belittled Phillips' religious freedom defense, calling it a “despicable piece of rhetoric.”
The very day that the Supreme Court decided to hear Phillips’ case, his wife, Debi, got a call from Scardina. ADF points out:
Over the years, Jack has declined many requests to create cakes that express messages he disagrees with—including Halloween cakes (even though Halloween cakes are a significant source of revenue for many cake shops) and cakes that disparage certain groups of people, including people who identify as LGBT. And in the years since Jack’s first case became public, Masterpiece Cakeshop had received numerous requests from people seeking to harass Jack—requests for cakes depicting drug use, cakes displaying sexually explicit materials, even cakes celebrating Satan or depicting satanic symbols. At least one of these requests (for a cake celebrating Satan) was from the very same attorney (Scardina) who requested the pink and blue gender-transition cake.
Despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled for Phillips, the state of Colorado targeted him again, this time over the “gender transition” cake. That prompted Phillips to file a lawsuit against the state, saying it had violated his First Amendment right to practice his faith and his right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.
Senior Judge Wiley Y. Daniel, the judge in the new lawsuit case, disagreed with state officials, who wanted the case to be dismissed, and let the case move forward, asserting he would issue a ruling later. He stated that the Supreme Court ruling was more relevant to the current case than the state believed. A state hearing is scheduled for February.