- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Colorado bakery owner Jack Phillips announced Tuesday that he has filed an appeal in a case brought over his refusal to create a pink-and-blue gender-transition cake.

Mr. Phillips, whose nine-year-old legal saga includes a 2018 win at the U.S. Supreme Court, challenged the Denver District Court’s ruling that he violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he turned down Autumn Scardina’s cake request in 2017, citing his religious convictions.

Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Jake Warner said that no one, including Mr. Phillips, “should be forced to express a message that violates their beliefs and conscience.”

“Activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they can’t promote messages on marriage and gender that violate their core beliefs,” Mr. Warner said in a statement. “In this case, an activist attorney demanded that Jack Phillips create custom cakes in order to test Jack and to ‘correct the errors’ of his thinking, and the attorney even threatened to sue Jack again if the case is dismissed for any reason.”

Ms. Scardina, a Lakewood lawyer, filed a lawsuit against Masterpiece Cakeshop after the Colorado Civil Rights Commission dropped her complaint against Mr. Phillips in 2019.

The Lakewood-based cakeshop had sued the commission, which was on the losing end of the 2018 Supreme Court case, accusing the state of harassing him with the Scardina complaint.

“This case and others like it represent a disturbing trend: Activists are weaponizing the legal system to ruin those who simply disagree with them,” Mr. Warner said. “Someone you disagree with might be the one targeted today, but when political winds shift, it could just as easily be you or anyone else tomorrow.”

Scardina attorney Paula Greisen said after the Denver District Court’s ruling in June that it was “sad that Masterpiece and its counsel has chosen to villainize people who disagree with their position on LGBTQ equality.”

“We strongly believe in religious freedom, but it’s been settled for decades by the U.S. Supreme Court that businesses open to the public and using the public infrastructure cannot refuse services to all people equally because of the identity of the customer,” said Ms. Greisen in Westword.

Mr. Phillips has argued that he serves all customers, including those who are gay and transgender, but refuses to create custom products with messages that run counter to his Christian beliefs, such as cakes celebrating divorce, Halloween, same-sex weddings, or disparaging others.

The notice of appeal was filed late Monday at the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Jack has been harassed for nearly a decade for living by his faith and making artistic decisions that artists have always made,” Mr. Warner said. “That’s why we have appealed this decision and will continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live and work according to their core convictions without fear of government punishment.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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