Colorado baker who went to Supreme Court over gay wedding cake challenges ruling on transgender cake

The baker’s appeal will be another test of free speech and discrimination laws

Gino Spocchia
Friday 07 October 2022 22:29 BST
Related video: Donald Trump tells supporter ‘you don’t look gay’ at Mar-a-Lago fundraiser

A Colorado baker who made headlines for a partial Supreme Court victory over his opposition to a gay wedding cake is now challenging a ruling over a transgender cake.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that lawyers forJack Phillips appealed a court ruling made last year which found him in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination laws by refusing a transgender woman’s cake.

He was ordered to pay the maximum amount under the state’s Anti Discrimination Act to the customer who sued for refusing her request to bake a cake that would celebrate her gender transition in 2017, the AP said.

Autumn Scardina’s lawyers reportedly said she did not ask the shop to endorse her idea, but that she simply wanted the bakery to sell her a blue and pink coloured cake that they would sell to anyone else.

The shop agreed to the custom cake before backtracking when Ms Scardina volunteered the information about her gender transition, Judge Timothy Schutz noted in the case.

Mr Phillips, a Christian, told the court he did not think someone could change genders and would not celebrate “somebody who thinks that they can” in opposition to established science on the matter, the AP reported.

His attorney Jake Warner added that it was wrong to suggest Mr Phillips should create a cake with a message contrary to his religious beliefs, which he argued was a violation of his right to free speech. 

Autumn Scardina standing outside the Colorado Judicial Center in Denver on Wednesday (AP)

Denver District Judge A Bruce Jones rejected Mr Phillips’ arguments during the case last year and said the cake was simply a product sold by a business that could not be withheld on the basis of state anti-discrimination laws.

The judge added that Mr Phillips’ decision not to provide the requested cake was “inextricably intertwined” with his refusal to recognise Ms Scardina as a woman, per AP.

One of Scardina’s lawyers, John McHugh, told The Independent in a statement on Friday “baking a cake is simply not speech under the First Amendment” and that “are confident the Court of Appeals will uphold the trial court’s determination that Mr. Phillips violated Colorado’s anti-discrimination law in refusing to sell a cake to Ms. Scardina because she is a transgender female.”

An image of ack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado (AP)

Mr Phillips’s appeal will now be considered by the court. If the case sounds familiar, it’s because it’s reminiscent of situation that happened in 2012 -- also involving Mr Phillips. The Colorado baker was sued for refusing to bake a gay couple a wedding cake.

As The Independent reported at the time, he took that ruling to the Supreme Court and secured a partial victory on the basis of his religious beliefs.

Ms Scardina, herself an attorney, attempted to order her cake on the same day the Supreme Court announced it would hear Mr Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case in 2017, according to the AP.

She reportedly testified that she wanted to “challenge the veracity” of Mr Phillips statements that he would serve LGBT+ customers, which were made during the previous case. 

The Independent has approached an attorney for Mr Phillips and Ms Scardina for comment.

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