Colorado Appeals Court Rules Against Baker in Case Over Gender-Transition Cake

Colorado Appeals Court Rules Against Baker in Case Over Gender-Transition Cake
Baker Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., on Sep. 21, 2017. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
Matthew Vadum

A baker in Colorado who won a U.S. Supreme Court case over religious freedom violated a state anti-discrimination law when he refused to make a cake celebrating a gender transition, the state’s Court of Appeals ruled on Jan. 26.

Lawyers for the baker, Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, have already announced they plan to appeal against the ruling.

Phillips gained notoriety when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in 2018 after he declined to create a custom cake to celebrate the union of a same-sex couple. Phillips said he didn’t want to make the cake because doing so would violate his beliefs as a Christian.

The high court found 7–2 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission infringed on his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion by ruling against him.

Targeting Bakers

The left has been targeting bakers for years for political purposes, asking Christian confectioners who are opposed to same-sex marriage to bake wedding cakes for gay marriage celebrations, knowing that they’ll be met with resistance.

When the bakers refuse to make the cakes, the activists sue under anti-discrimination laws, hoping to secure favorable legal precedents.

But in the case at hand, attorney Autumn Scardina, who was born male but now identifies as female, asked Phillips to make a custom cake celebrating his transition to female from male.

Phillips refused.

Phillips “has strong religious beliefs that it is not possible for a person to be transgender. He and his wife do not believe that a person can transition from the gender assigned at birth.

“As a result, Mr. Phillips believes Ms. Scardina is a male and will not acknowledge her transgender status or that she is a female,” according to the June 2021 ruling by a state district court in Denver.

Disappointment at Decision

That court found that Phillips violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to serve Scardina because of his transgender status and that the law itself didn’t violate Phillips’s rights.
In its new ruling, the Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the Denver court’s decision, finding that it “gave all parties the benefit of its careful attention to the evidence and arguments they presented, and ... rendered a thorough order that dispassionately explained the reasons for its rulings.”

The legal proceedings “were not marked by any hostility toward Masterpiece or Phillips, or by a desire to punish or target them based on their religious views.”

Jake Warner, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing Phillips, expressed disappointment at the appellate court’s decision.

“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs,” Warner said in a statement.

‘This Cruelty Must Stop’

“Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to say things he does not believe. Then, an activist attorney continued that crusade,” he said, in an apparent reference to Scardina.

“This cruelty must stop. One need not 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,” Warner said.

The same state law “being used to punish Jack is also at issue now at the U.S. Supreme Court in 303 Creative v. Elenis,” he said.

On Dec. 5, 2022, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the 303 Creative case, which involves a Christian website designer who argues that Colorado’s law requiring her to create websites to celebrate same-sex weddings infringes on her constitutional rights.

ADF is representing the designer. The high court is expected to rule on that case by June.

Scardina’s attorneys at Fennemore Law and King Greisen didn’t respond by press time to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.