Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who gained global attention for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding, was back in court earlier this week, The Associated Press reported.
The Christian baker and his lawyers are fighting back against allegations that he discriminated against transgender lawyer Autumn Scardina when he denied her request for a "transition day" cake.
"At this point, he's just a guy who is trying to get back to life. The problem is the state of Colorado won't let him," Jim Campbell, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, told the AP after Tuesday's hearing. Alliance Defending Freedom is the Christian nonprofit law firm representing Phillips.
Phillips' lawyers argued Tuesday that the state violated his First Amendment right to practice his religion and his 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law.
In August, Phillips' lawyers filed the lawsuit against Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration, the Division of Civil Rights, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for "unconstitutional bullying," according to the report.
Phillips is seeking $100,000 in punitive damages from Aubrey Elenis, director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division.
The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation by any "place of business engaged in sales to the public."
What are the details?
Last summer, Scardina called the bakery and asked for a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate the seventh anniversary of her gender transition.
Scardina's request was made June 26, 2017, the same day that the Supreme Court agreed to hear Phillips' case involving his refusal to bake a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins in 2012.
On June 28, less than a month after the Supreme Court had ruled 7-2 in Phillips' favor, Scardina filed the complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission citing she was discriminated against for being transgender.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed anti-religious bias in its sanctions against Phillips for refusing to make the gay couple's cake.
What does the lawsuit claim?
The lawsuit claims that Phillips "serves everyone," adding that cake artists such as Phillips have the right to decline to make cakes with designs that include messages that conflict with religious beliefs.
"All people — no matter who they are, what they believe, or what protected characteristics they have — are welcome in Phillips' shop and may purchase anything available for sale," according to the lawsuit. "But as a devout man of faith, Phillips cannot create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his religious beliefs."
The lawsuit points out that the baker has received calls asking for cakes to celebrate "Satan, featuring satanic symbols, depicting sexually explicit materials, and promoting marijuana use. Phillips believes that some of those requests came from the same Colorado lawyer."
Phillips' lawyers told the court that he "believes as a matter of religious conviction that sex — the status of being male or female — is given by God, is biologically determined, is not determined by perceptions or feelings, and cannot be chosen or changed."
What did the state say?
State officials argued for the court to dismiss the case based on the state's attempts to enforce an order against Phillips.
What was the judge's response?
Judge Wiley Y. Daniel said he believed the Supreme Court's ruling was relevant to the current case and that he was inclined to allow the case to move forward.
He also noted that in the now-retired Justice Anthony Kennedy's conclusion, the commission had shown "hostility" toward religion, according to the AP report.
Daniel said he would issue his written decision at a later date.
Another hearing is set for February.