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Tipsheet

Masterpiece Cakeshop Baker Loses Appeal Over Gender-Transition Cake

A Colorado baker who won a Supreme Court victory for refusing to create a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his Christian beliefs lost an appeal this week in a lawsuit over his refusal to make a birthday cake celebrating a transgender person’s gender transition.

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According to the Associated Press, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the cake Autumn Scardina requested from baker Jack Phillips’ Masterpiece Cakeshop is “not a form of speech.”

Reportedly, Phillips initially agreed to make the birthday cake, then reversed course when Scardina explained that the cake was celebrating his transition from male to female. The cake was to be pink on the inside with blue frosting on the outside. 

In addition, the court found that Colorado law makes it illegal to refuse to provide services based on a person’s race, religion, sexual orientation, and other characteristics. The court found that this statute does not violate Philips’ right to express his religious beliefs. 

“We conclude that creating a pink cake with blue frosting is not inherently expressive and any message or symbolism it provides to an observer would not be attributed to the baker,” the court said in its decision.

Phillips was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, which said on Thursday that a plan was already in the works to appeal the case to the Colorado Supreme Court. Phillips’ cakes, the attorneys argued, are a form of free speech.

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“Free speech is for everyone. No one should be forced to express a message that violates their core beliefs,” ADF senior counsel Jake Warner said in a statement.

“Over a decade ago, Colorado officials began targeting Jack, misusing state law to force him to say things he does not believe,” Warner added. “Then an activist attorney continued that crusade. This cruelty must stop. One need not agree with Jack’s views to agree that all Americans should be free to say what they believe, even if the government disagrees with those beliefs.”

Phillips previously won a case at the Supreme Court in 2018 when he did not make a wedding cake for a gay couple due to his Christian faith, as mentioned above. But, Phillips was sued again in 2021 when Scardina approached him wanting Masterpiece Cakeshop to create the gender transition cake. 

John McHugh, Scardina’s attorney, told The Daily Caller that Thursday’s ruling is a “victory” for the “greater LGBTQ community.”

“The court held that Masterpiece Cakeshop broke the law when it refused to sell a birthday cake to Ms. Scardina because she is a transgender woman,” McHugh said. “In doing so, the court rejected the defendants’ free speech argument because, as defendants admitted at trial, a pink cake with blue frosting does not have any inherent meaning and the act of selling a cake is not speech. Similarly, the Court held, consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent, that Mr. Phillips’ religious beliefs do not exempt him from anti-discrimination laws.”

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Warner told the Caller that the court’s arguments ignore Supreme Court precedent, and that “symbolic speech” is within the rights granted by the U.S. Constitution.

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