Colorado baker sues state officials, claiming continued religious persecution

Colorado baker sues state officials, claiming continued religious persecution
© Camile Fine

A Colorado baker who won a Supreme Court case after refusing to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding is suing Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and members of the state's Civil Rights Commission, saying he is still being persecuted for his religious beliefs.

Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips filed the lawsuit late Tuesday night in U.S. District Court, The Denver Post reports. It alleges that Colorado officials are still trying to force him to bake cakes he finds objectionable, despite the Supreme Court ruling in June that found previous attempts to do so amounted to religious persecution.

According to the filing, an attorney called Phillips on the same day of the court's decision and asked him to make a cake that faded from pink to blue in celebration of a gender transition from male to female.

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The request conflicted with Phillips religious beliefs and he declined, according to the lawsuit, which adds that Colorado officials found probable cause that state law required him to bake the requested cake 24 days later.

“For over six years now, Colorado has been on a crusade to crush Plaintiff Jack Phillips ('Phillips') because its officials despise what he believes and how he practices his faith,” Phillips’s attorneys said.

The suit also alleges that his family lost 40 percent of its income when he was told to either bake cakes that violated his beliefs or give up the part of his business that catered to weddings.

Phillips also claims he was forced to implement a reeducation program for himself and his employees — many of whom were family members — that taught that exercising their religious beliefs in their work was wrong.

“It is now clear that Colorado will not rest until Phillips either closes Masterpiece Cakeshop or agrees to violate his religious beliefs,” the filing reads. “The state’s continuing efforts to target Phillips do not just violate the Constitution; they cross the line into bad faith. This Court should put a stop to Colorado’s unconstitutional bullying."

Phillips is seeking restitution for legal fees and $100,000 from the director of the civil rights commission in "punitive damages.”