Colorado state has been told it cannot stop a Christian baker from taking legal action over claims that his religious freedom is being violated.
A federal judge denied on Friday a request by Colorado state attorneys to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, who argues that he is being discriminated against over his refusal to bake cakes with messages that go against his Christian beliefs.
The US Supreme Court ruled last June that Phillips was within his rights to refuse to bake a gay wedding cake on religious grounds.
Despite that victory, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission brought another complaint against him after he turned down an order for a transgender cake.
The order was made by Autumn Scardina, a transgender Denver lawyer, who asked for a cake that was pink on the inside and blue on the outside to celebrate the anniversary of her transition.
When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission accused Phillips of discrimination, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Phillips, responded by filing suit against the state, accusing it of harassing the baker because of his Christian beliefs and violating his First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion.
The lawsuit accuses Colorado state of treating Phillips differently from other bakers who are allowed 'to decline requests to create custom cakes that express messages they deem objectionable and would not express for anyone'.
'The same agency that the Supreme Court rebuked as hostile to Jack Phillips has remained committed to treating him unequally and forcing him to express messages that violate his religious beliefs,' said ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell, who argued before the US District Court in Colorado before Christmas.
'Colorado is acting in bad faith and with bias toward Jack. We look forward to moving forward with this lawsuit to ensure that Jack isn't forced to create custom cakes that express messages in conflict with his faith.'
ADF said that Phillips was 'happy to serve all customers' but had declined to make cakes with messages that violate his faith, including messages that demean LGBT people, are racist, celebrate Halloween, promote marijuana use, or support Satan.
'But Jack doesn't create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events in conflict with his deeply held beliefs,' Campbell continued.
'He can't get a fair shake before the state commission. A commissioner set to decide the state's new case against Jack has publicly referred to him as a "hater" on Twitter, one of several indications of the commission's ongoing bad faith toward him and his beliefs.'