Event Banner

Judge rules against Masterpiece Cakeshop owner in another discrimination case, this time involving a cake celebrating a gender transition


A Colorado district judge has ruled against Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, whose case involving a same-sex wedding cake went all the way to the Supreme Court. This time, he has been accused of discrimination for refusing to bake a cake to celebrate a gender transition.

Quick Facts

Jack Phillips is a devout Christian who takes great pride in the cakes he makes. He is known as a true artist and master of his craft, but because he views his creations as an extension of his own expression, he has always refused to make cakes that communicate messages he disagrees with.

As Alliance Defending Freedom explains, this includes cakes that celebrate Halloween or drug use or are disparaging to other people, including those who identify as LGBT.

When he declined to bake cakes that celebrated a same-sex wedding or a gender transition, he was choosing, at enormous personal risk in this day and age, to continue to limit his services to the creation of only those messages he agreed with and could be proud of, as any American should have the right to do.

“Jack Phillips, just like every creative professional, has the right to decline to use his artistic abilities to express messages or celebrate events he disagrees with,” explains the ADF, which has represented Phillips since 2012, when the Colorado Human Rights Commission charged him with discrimination for refusing to bake a cake celebrating a same-sex wedding.

Last week, however, Denver District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones ruled that Phillips again violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act when he refused to bake a cake celebrating the gender transition of Denver attorney Autumn Scardina.

“Defendants admit that they were willing to make the requested cake until Ms. Scardina identified that she chose the colors to reflect and celebrate her identity as a transgender female,” Jones wrote in his decision. “Defendants are, however, willing to make cakes for non-transgender individuals that reflect that person’s gender. And Defendants would ‘gladly’ make an identical looking cake for other customers.”

Had the requested cake been “more intricate, artistically involved, or overtly stated a message attributable to Defendants,” the analysis may have been different, the judge wrote. “Defendants’ expressive conduct argument fails because Defendants presented no evidence that a reasonable observer would attribute any message that was conveyed by the cake to Defendants,” he continued, ultimately determining that Phillips failed to prove the cake would have violated his First Amendment rights.

The ADF vehemently disagreed and vowed to continue to fight for Phillips’ First Amendment rights. “Jack Phillips serves all people but shouldn’t be forced to create custom cakes with messages that violate his conscience,” said General Counsel Kristen Waggoner. “Radical activists and government officials are targeting artists like Jack because they won’t promote messages on marriage and sexuality that violate their core convictions.”

She denounced “the weaponization of our justice system to ruin those with whom the activists disagree,” noting that the “harassment of people like Jack has been occurring for nearly a decade and must stop.”

ADF will appeal this decision, Waggoner stated, and will also “continue to defend the freedom of all Americans to peacefully live and work according to their deeply held beliefs without fear of punishment.”

Scardina made a point to inform Phillips and his wife that the cake was intended to celebrate transitioning from life as a male to life as a female. She later asked him to bake a second cake featuring an image of Satan smoking a marijuana joint. Phillips refused to bake either cake, as their messages go against his religious convictions.

Phillips has also made a point to emphasize that he has no problem serving LGBT customers and simply wishes not to use his services to bake a cake that would violate his conscience.

“Jack serves everyone; what he can’t do is create custom cake art that celebrates events or expresses messages in conflict with his religious beliefs,” the ADF explains.

This humble Christian baker never made an active effort to disparage, discriminate against, or disassociate himself from anyone, but his creativity and his business are his own, and, as the Supreme Court has already ruled, he has every right to use and operate them however he wishes.