Trans Woman Serves Up Lawsuit to Colorado Baker

DENVER (CN) – Three months after Colorado settled a discrimination case with the baker who refused to make a cake commemorating a gender transition, the transgender woman who was denied the cake sued the bakery herself.

In July 2017, Denver-based attorney Autumn Scardina asked Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, a devout Christian, to bake her a cake. Phillips refused, according to Scardina’s lawsuit, because she is transgender.

In addition to violating her civil rights, Scardina claims the bakery falsely advertised “they would be happy to provide a variety of baked goods, including birthday cakes, to all members of the public, including LGBT individuals.”

Scardina says she attempted to commission a pink cake with blue frosting, telling a bakery employee “the requested design had personal significance for her because it reflects her status as a transgender female.” She says she was then told the cake shop did not make cakes for “a sex change celebration.”

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission first sued Phillips in 2014 after he refused to make a same-sex couple’s wedding cake, arguing his religious beliefs prevent him from creating something he didn’t believe in.

In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the commission’s finding – which had been upheld by an administrative law judge and the Colorado Court of Appeals – albeit narrowly. The justices found the commission hadn’t treated Phillips with “neutral and respectful consideration,” and had made “official expressions of hostility to religion” in the handling of Phillips’ case.

In 2018, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission filed a second complaint against Phillips for refusing to make Scardina’s cake. Phillips in turn sued the state, claiming without federal intervention the state will continue to persecute him.

In March, Phillips and the state agreed to drop their cases against each other. At the time, state Attorney General Phil Weiser said while he would no longer use state resources to investigate Phillips, Scardina was free to pursue her own lawsuit.

Scardina seeks damages on claims of Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act violations and deceptive and unfair trade practices. She is represented by John McHugh of Denver-based firm Reilly Pozner.

Alliance Defending Freedom, the law firm previously defending Phillips, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

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