The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, have agreed to dismiss an ongoing state and federal court litigation. The Colorado Civil Rights …
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The Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, have agreed to dismiss an ongoing state and federal court litigation.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission voted unanimously to dismiss a case regarding Phillips refusing to bake a cake for Autumn Scardina, an attorney from Arvada. Scardina asked Masterpiece Cakeshop in June of 2017 to create a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to recognize her transition from male to female. Phillips refused to bake the cake, saying he felt like doing so would've gone against his religious beliefs.
Following the state notifying Phillips that it found probable cause that Colorado law requires his business to bake the cake for Scardina, he sued then Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and other Colorado officials last August. The lawsuit asked Colorado to stop punishing Phillips for declining to create cake messages that violate his faith.
“After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone's best interest to move forward with these cases. The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for resolving them,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser in a statement. His office represents the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division. “Equal justice for all will continue to be a core value that we will uphold as we enforce our state's and nation's civil rights laws.”
Phillips is no stranger to having his name in headlines. Last June, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple in 2012, because of his religious beliefs, on the narrow grounds that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had shown a bias against his religious beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law firm defending Phillips, called the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's vote “great news for everyone.”
“We hope that the state is done going along with obvious efforts to harass (Phillips). He shouldn't be driven out of business just because some people disagree with his religious beliefs and his desire to live consistently with them,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jim Campbell. “We look forward to the day when Jack doesn't have to fear government punishment for his faith or harassment from people who oppose his beliefs.”
Although the Colorado Civil Rights Commission voted to dismiss the state administrative case, Scardina can still pursue a claim of her own.
One Colorado, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ people and their families in Colorado, said businesses can decide what products, or services they offer, but they can't choose who they offer those products, or services to.
“Despite the mutual agreement between the state of Colorado and Masterpiece Cakeshop, the law is still the law. No matter who you are, who you love, or what you believe, Coloradans across our state — including LGBTQ Coloradans and their families — are still protected under Colorado law from discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations,” said Daniel Ramos, executive director for One Colorado.
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