Colorado baker who refused to make cake for gays sues again

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado baker who insisted his religious beliefs justified his refusal to make a wedding cake for a gay couple — an argument partly supported by the U.S. Supreme Court — has sued the state again for opposing his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition, his attorneys said Wednesday.

Lawyers for Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips allege in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday that Colorado is on a “crusade to crush” Phillips because of his religious beliefs.

They are challenging a June 28 finding by Colorado’s Civil Rights Division that Phillips discriminated against a Denver-area attorney who requested a birthday cake in 2017 to celebrate the attorney’s gender transition from male to female. Phillips refused the request, citing his belief that “the status of being male or female ... is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed,” the lawsuit said.

The rights division found that Autumn Scardina, who requested the cake, was discriminated against based on her transgender status. It ordered both parties to seek a mediated resolution.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Scardina declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Phillips’ suit names rights division director Aubrey Elenis, state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Gov. John Hickenlooper as defendants. It seeks a reversal of the commission ruling and at least $100,000 in punitive damages from Elenis.

Rebecca Laurie, a spokeswoman for the commission, declined comment Wednesday, citing pending litigation. Also declining comment where Jacque Montgomery, spokeswoman for Hickenlooper, the Democratic governor, and Annie Skinner, spokeswoman for Coffman, a Republican.