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Masterpiece Cakeshop, Colorado Civil Rights Commission Declare Truce

Jack Phillips

Although the state is no longer pursuing action against the owner of the antigay bakery, a trans woman may still file suit against him.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission will no longer pursue grievances against Jack Phillips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to make cakes for a gay couple and a trans woman. In exchange, Phillips has agreed to drop his own lawsuit against the commission.

The war between the Commission and Phillips stretches back to 2012, when the baker denied a wedding cake for a same-sex male couple. With the help of the ACLU, David Mullen and Charlie Craig filed a grievance with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. An administrative judge sided with the couple, saying Masterpiece violated state law by discriminating against them. Phillips -- who maintains he's not homophobic but cannot make baked goods that conflict with his Christian beliefs -- appealed, eventually landing the case at the Supreme Court. A 7-2 majority of justices found members of the Commission were hostile to Phillips's religion and dropped any charges of discrimination against him (they failed to rule on the larger issue of religious-based discrimination).

The drama between the Commission and Phillips wasn't over, though.

The same day of the Supreme Court's June 2018 ruling, a trans woman requested a cake celebrating her transition from the Masterpiece cake shop. When it was denied, the woman filed a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission, who once again decided Phillips broke the law. Phillips responded by suing the Commission, claiming officials had a crusade against him and were harassing him.

But on Tuesday, Colorado's attorney general, Phil Weiser, announced the Commission -- which Weiser oversees -- and Phillips had agreed to end all litigation.

"Under the terms of the agreement, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission will voluntarily dismiss the state administrative action against Masterpiece Cakeshop and its owner, Jack Phillips, and Mr. Phillips will voluntarily dismiss his federal court case against the State," Weiser wrote in a press release. "Each side will bear their own costs and attorneys' fees. This agreement does not affect the ability of Autumn Scardina, the complainant in the state administrative case, to pursue a claim on her own.

After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone's best interest to move forward with these cases. The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for resolving them. Equal justice for all will continue to be a core value that we will uphold as we enforce our state's and nation's civil rights laws.

The Commission's vote to dismiss the state administrative case was unanimous."

As Weiser stated, Scardina can still pursue a lawsuit against Phillips and Masterpiece on her own.

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