Even before the Supreme Court officially took up the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a new round of trouble was already on the way for Christian baker Jack Phillips. While the Supreme Court would ultimately determine the original case in his favor – thanks to some virulently anti-religious remarks by one of the commissioners – Phillips was about to be hit with yet another complaint. This time it wasn’t about baking a cake for a gay wedding, it was about baking a cake to celebrate someone’s gender transition.
Phillips was approached by a lawyer in June 2017 – a lawyer who just happens to be a transgender activist who makes a living doing just this kind of thing. The lawyer requested a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to represent gender transitioning. Phillips refused, telling the lawyer that such a cake would express approval of something he did not believe in. In other words, it was the gay marriage thing all over again. But despite going through hell and back for sticking to his guns the first time, Phillips wasn’t about to back down from exercising his First Amendment rights.
Colorado, feeling stung by the Supreme Court’s decision in the first case, decided that there was probable cause to believe that Phillips had discriminated against a protected minority. They brought civil charges against the baker for the second time, but Phillips quickly got his lawyers from the Supreme Court case on the matter. They filed a lawsuit – Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Elenis – in an effort to nip the new charges in the bud before they could spiral out of control like the first case.
This week, they got some good news as Colorado dropped the case.
“The state of Colorado is dismissing its case against Jack, stopping its six and a half years of hostility toward him for his beliefs,” said Kristen Waggoner of the Alliance Defending Freedom. “Jack’s victory is great news for everyone. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each another. But the state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.”
Hopefully, this will bring to an end the state’s ongoing efforts to put this Christian entrepreneur out of business. Phillips is not refusing customers because of their self-styled “identities.” He is refusing to create baked goods that spread a message he does not believe in. That is his clear and obvious right under the First Amendment, and it is not up to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to step in every time he exercises it.
Have they finally learned their lesson? We shall see.