Masterpiece Cakeshop Files Another Suit Against Colorado Civil Rights Commission

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<p>Sam Brasch/CPR News</p>
<p>Baker Jack Phillips at work at Masterpiece Cakeshop, June 8, 2018.</p>
Photo: Masterpiece Case | Jack Phillips Working In Cake Shop - SBrasch
Baker Jack Phillips at work at Masterpiece Cakeshop, June 8, 2018.

Published 8:04 a.m. | Updated 4:32 p.m.

Lawyers for Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips filed a federal lawsuit against the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Gov. John Hickenlooper late Tuesday.

The Alliance Defending Freedom said the suit stems from a June Civil Rights Commission ruling that cited Phillips for "probable cause" of discrimination based on "sex and or transgender status."

The 2017 commission complaint stated that Phillips refused to bake a cake celebrating a person's transition from male to female.

"That's a cake I can't create for anybody," Phillips said, speaking to CPR News.

Once he found out what the cake was celebrating, he could no longer make it.

"I know the bible says that God created male and female and that we don't get to choose that, and we don't get to change that. And I don't feel like the government has a right to compel me to participate in creating a cake that promotes that message," Phillips said.

Hickenlooper said he was not familiar with the new lawsuit, but stands by the Commissions' rulings in general.

"If you're selling widgets and you decide you're not going to sell a widget to someone because of, you don't agree with their religious beliefs or religion, that doesn't seem American," the governor said.

Previously, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips in a high profile case where he refused to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding celebration on religious grounds.

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.

When The Associated Press reached Scardina by telephone Wednesday, she declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

When contacted, a Colorado Civil Rights Commission spokeswoman said the commission cannot disclose whether or not a charge has been filed with the office, and "subsequent discussions regarding cases are confidential."

The new lawsuit alleges that Colorado violated Phillips' First Amendment right to practice his faith and 14th Amendment right to equal protection, citing commission rulings upholding other bakers' refusal to make cakes exhibiting hate messages.

"For over six years now, Colorado has been on a crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips ... because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith," the suit claims. "This lawsuit is necessary to stop Colorado's continuing persecution of Phillips."

"Neither Jack nor any other creative professionals should be targeted by the government for living consistently with their religious beliefs," Kristen Waggoner, an ADF senior vice president, said in Wednesday statement.

Colorado's Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman is also named in the suit. A spokesperson said her office is not commenting at this time. Also declining comment was Annie Skinner, spokeswoman for Coffman, a Republican.