"No matter the circumstances, I must be punished," a Colorado Christian baker wrote about his state's latest effort to force him to express messages in opposition to his religion through his art.
Colorado baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop recently penned a column discussing the latest lawsuit filed on his behalf in response to the state's Civil Rights Commission ruling that he must make a cake that goes against his religious beliefs.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Phillips, arguing that the Christian baker had been mistreated by Colorado's Civil Rights Commission due to his sincerely-held religious beliefs.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, the legal group that successfully argued Phillips' case before the high court, filed a lawsuit Tuesday on behalf of the baker over a new complaint put against him for refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition.
In an opinion piece published Thursday by USA Today, Phillips said that he was being "targeted again" for his religious beliefs, noting his shock that the Commission took on the complaint mere weeks after the Supreme Court ruled in his favor.
"The state did this even though it allows others — like the three bakers who were asked for cakes criticizing same-sex marriage — to decline requests for cakes expressing messages that they don't communicate for anyone. The government is clearly treating me worse than others," wrote Phillips.
Phillips argued that the "state is contradicting what it told the Supreme Court in my prior case," explaining that the government said he was free "to decline to sell cakes with 'pro-gay' designs or inscriptions."
"Yet the cake requested in the new case obviously had a pro-LGBT design. The person who requested it even recognized that the design was intended to represent and celebrate a gender transition," continued Phillips.
"The inconsistency between what the state told the Supreme Court and what it is doing to me now shows the government's real policy: No matter the circumstances, I must be punished."
According to the ADF's recent suit, last year a Colorado lawyer requested that Phillips make a cake celebrating a gender transition, with a blue exterior and a pink interior.
Phillips also received requests to make cakes celebrating Satan, marijuana usage, and sexually explicit imagery, with at least some of these requests allegedly coming from the lawyer.
In defense of Phillips, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera argued in an entry on Breakpoint that the Commission selectively quoted from the Supreme Court decision to justify their charge.
"The entire passage from the decision quoted by the Commission reads like this, 'While it is unexceptional that Colorado law can protect gay persons in acquiring products and services on the same terms and conditions as are offered to other members of the public, the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion,'" wrote Stonestreet and Rivera.
"But the Commission omitted the word 'While,' and the entire second part of the quote, 'the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion.' In other words, the Commission selectively quoted the passage in such a way as to turn the Supreme Court's meaning on its head."
Others, including Americans United for Separation of Church & State, have defended the commission, with an entry on their blog "Wall of Separation" arguing that what "the bakery is doing was illegal before and is illegal now."
"In fact, in its 7-2 ruling on narrow grounds in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Supreme Court made it clear that public businesses do not have a right to refuse service to members of the LGBTQ community on the basis of religion," wrote Rokia Hassanein of Americans United.
"This latest incident has nothing to do with 'artistic freedom.' The truth is, Masterpiece Cakeshop wants to use religious beliefs to treat LGBTQ folks like second-class citizens. But religious freedom is not a license to discriminate."