Colorado baker Jack Phillips is in trouble for discrimination again.
A Denver judge ruled Tuesday that Phillips violated the state’s antidiscrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a transgender woman’s transition.
Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, famously refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple several years ago, saying that to do so would violate his Christian beliefs and therefore his First Amendment rights of religious expression and free speech. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission ruled that he had violated the antidiscrimination statute, but the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 vacated the commission’s decision, saying the commission had not shown sufficient respect for Phillips’s religious beliefs.
But in ruling on trans woman Autumn Scardina’s lawsuit, Denver District Judge A. Bruce Jones “said the case was about a refusal to sell a product, not compelled speech,” the Associated Press reports.
Scardina had ordered a birthday cake, blue on the outside and pink on the inside, to celebrate her transition. “The woman on the phone did not object to my request for a birthday cake until I told her I was celebrating my transition from male to female,” she wrote in a complaint filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in 2018. “I believe that other people who request birthday cakes get to select the color and theme of the cake.” And Phillips said at the time that he would not “promote the idea that a person’s sex is anything other than an immutable God-given biological reality.”
The complaint filed with the Civil Rights Commission was dropped in 2019 under an agreement between the state and Phillips’s lawyers, as a suit Phillips had filed against the state, claiming harassment, was also dropped. But Scardina was still free to sue Phillips directly, which she did, resulting in Tuesday’s ruling.
In testimony in the District Court for the City and County of Denver in March, Phillips said he did not believe a person could change their gender, and he would decline to celebrate “somebody who thinks that they can.” Jones pointed that out in his ruling.
“The anti-discrimination laws are intended to ensure that members of our society who have historically been treated unfairly, who have been deprived of even the every-day right to access businesses to buy products, are no longer treated as ‘others,’” Jones wrote, according to the AP. He fined Phillips $500 for violating the state law.
Phillips’s lawyers, from the anti-LGBTQ+ legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, said they will appeal. “Radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions,” said a statement issued by Kristen Waggoner, ADF general counsel.