DENVER — For the second time in nearly eight years, Colorado's second-highest court has agreed Masterpiece Cakeshop, Inc. violated the state's antidiscrimination law by refusing to sell a cake to an LGBTQ customer.
A three-judge panel for the Court of Appeals concluded the store's owner, Jack Phillips, ran afoul of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) when he turned down a transgender woman's request for a cake because of her gender identity. Although Phillips attempted to justify his actions by referencing his religious beliefs, the panel noted that Colorado has a compelling interest in preventing discrimination in places of public accommodation, like businesses.
"CADA is rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest. Accordingly, CADA may be enforced against Masterpiece and Phillips without violating their right to the free exercise of religion," wrote Judge Timothy J. Schutz in the Jan. 26 opinion.
However, the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court is poised to hand down the opposite conclusion in a separate, but similar, free speech case pending before the justices, 303 Creative v. Elenis. The case also arose from Colorado and, like Phillips, involves a Christian business owner whose religious beliefs are inimical to LGBTQ rights.
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