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Colorado baker back in court after turning away transgender woman

Jack Phillips is suing the state of Colorado in a case involving another discrimination allegation — this one by a transgender woman.
Image: Baker Jack Phillips
Baker Jack Phillips in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, on Sept. 21, 2017.Rick Wilking / Reuters file

The Christian baker whose refusal to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court is suing Colorado after the state ruled that he had discriminated against another customer, this time a transgender woman.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, attorneys for the baker, Jack Phillips, who owns Masterpiece Cakeshop, claim that Colorado is on a "crusade to crush" him because of his religious beliefs.

“After Phillips defended himself all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and won, he thought Colorado’s hostility toward his faith was over,” the lawsuit states. "He was wrong."

“Colorado has renewed its war against him by embarking on another attempt to prosecute him, in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s ruling in his favor. This lawsuit is necessary to stop Colorado’s continuing persecution of Phillips,” the suit continues.

The Supreme Court sided with Phillips in June in a 7-2 decision, saying legal proceedings in Colorado had shown a hostility toward the baker’s religious views. However, the opinion was a narrow one, applying to the specific facts of that case only. The court did not rule on whether business owners can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBTQ people.

In a decision issued on June 28 — less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled in Phillips’ favor in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission — the commission found probable cause that Phillips had discriminated against Autumn Scardina by refusing to make a cake celebrating, in her words, “the 7th year anniversary of my transition from male to female.”

The refusal, the commission said, was based on Scardina's transgender status, adding, "A claim of discriminatory denial of full and equal enjoyment of a place of public accommodation has been established.”

The commission then went on to cite part of the Supreme Court’s June 4 Masterpiece ruling to back up the commission’s decision against Phillips: “As asserted by the Supreme Court, ‘It is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons, just as it can protect other classes of individuals, in acquiring whatever products and services they choose on the same terms and conditions are offered to other members of the public.’”