Attorneys for Jack Phillips have filed a lawsuit against the state of Colorado, claiming they are violating his religious freedom by penalizing him for failing to make a cake for someone.
This time, it’s a transgender attorney, Autumn Scardina, who wanted a birthday cake that celebrated her seventh year of transitioning from male to female.
Transgenderism is a protected class under Colorado anti-discrimination laws. As with the gay wedding cake, there is no reasonable argument that Phillips is not discriminating. He admits it. (Colorado Politics)
What he asserts, however, is his personal freedom to not perform artistic services which are in direct opposition to his stated religious beliefs.
This type of conflict – the rights of one against the rights of another – is exactly what the courts are meant to decide. In this case, the Supreme Court already made their decision.
Unfortunately for all involved, the Supreme Court issued a very narrow ruling in that case, siding with Phillips not on the merit of the case but rather over the demonstrated unwillingness of the Colorado government to fairly consider his rights. (TNB)
Phillips has become a rallying point for social activists, even after the decision. According to the lawsuit, Phillips claims that Autumn Scardina had made several other attempts to get him to produce a cake celebrating transgenderism. (Fox News) He also claims that the Colorado government is participating in an effort to punish him for successfully pushing the previous case.
It is very believable, particularly in the current political climate, to claim that government officials would abuse their authority to enact payback against those who, they believe, made them appear petty or inept.
On the other hand, Phillips has taken a risky stance here. From the latest judgement against him:
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.”NBC news
At issue is the matter of the transitional celebration and equal use. The lawyer carefully requested no indications beyond the “blue on the outside, pink on the inside” colors and verbally stated it was to celebrate the transition. The Masterpiece Cake Shop regularly offers two-colored cakes, including for birthdays. By framing it this way, the request was designed to play to the acknowledgement the Supreme Court made about the state’s authority to protect classes.
Ultimately, he has a right to practice his religion without state-sponsored oppression. The state has a right to enact penalties on those who violate their anti-discrimination laws. This lawsuit may serve as an reminder to the Supreme Court that narrowly focused decisions designed to avoid dealing with fundamental questions merely delay the necessary decisions.
Or they may simply find that there is evidence that Colorado is persecuting him. We’ll hear about it in the future, one way or another.