Baker once sued over gay couple wedding cake, now over sex change cake
by: via Nexstar Media Wire, The Associated Press
Posted: Mar 23, 2021 / 7:46 AM EDTUpdated: March 23, 2021 / 7:46 AM EDT
DENVER (AP) – A Colorado baker who won a partial victory in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple was tried on Monday in another lawsuit in which it a birthday cake for a transgender woman.
Autumn Scardina attempted to order the birthday cake on the same day in 2017 that the Supreme Court announced it would hear baker Jack Phillips’ appeal in the wedding cake case. Scardina, a lawyer, asked for a cake, blue on the outside and pink on the inside, in honor of her gender change.
Her lawsuit is the latest in a series of cases in the United States that bring the rights of LGBTQ people to religious objections by traders, an issue that remains unresolved by the country’s highest court.
During a virtual trial conducted by a Denver state judge, Scardina said Monday that Phillips alleged that, as a Christian, he was opposed to the making of the gay couple’s wedding cake because it involved a religious ceremony but any other type of product would sell.
She said she called Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop to place the order after learning of the court announcement because she wanted to find out if he really meant it.
When her lawyer Paula Greisen asked if the call was a “setup”, she said it wasn’t.
“It was more about calling someone a bluff,” she said.
In an opening argument, a lawyer representing Phillips, Sean Gates, said his refusal to make Scardina’s cake was related to his message and did not discriminate against Scardina in 2012. Since Phillips has attracted media attention since then, he was able to not creating a cake with a message he disagreed with, Gates said.
“The message would be that he agrees that gender change is something to celebrate,” said Gates, who later found Phillips declined to bake cakes with other messages he declined, including Halloween items.
Before Scardina filed her lawsuit, she filed a complaint with the state against Phillips, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission found that Phillips likely discriminated against her. Phillips then filed a federal lawsuit against Colorado, accusing him of “crusading to destroy him” by pursuing the complaint.
In March 2019, state lawyers and Phillips agreed to drop both cases as part of a settlement that continued to allow Scardina to bring her own lawsuit. At the time, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said that both sides agreed that it was not in anyone’s best interests to move on with the cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission displayed anti-religious prejudice when it sanctioned Phillips for refusing to make the same-sex wedding cake for Craig and Mullins. However, the judges did not rule on the larger question of whether companies can raise religious objections to refuse service to gays or lesbians.
The court is currently considering a related question in a case about whether a Catholic welfare agency can refuse to work with same-sex couples as foster parents in Philadelphia.