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Bakery Shop Sues Colorado, Hickenlooper Over Discrimination Allegation

By Michael Abeyta

DENVER (CBS4) - Attention was buzzing around Jack Phillips' bakery again on Wednesday after he sued the state over another discrimination allegation.

"Here we are again," he said.

Jack Phillips (credit: CBS)

Phillips has been through this all before. In 2012 he declined to make a cake for a gay couple's wedding. The couple and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission sued him claiming Phillips discriminated against them.

(credit: CBS)

Phillips argued making the cake would be against his religious beliefs.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state was being hostile toward Phillips' religious beliefs. It didn't rule on whether business owners can invoke religious objections to refuse service to LGBT people.

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(credit: CBS)

"It was clear. It told the commission specifically you're hostile to Jack's faith. You can't do that," he said.

Now, a Coloradan undergoing gender transition says Phillips refused to bake a cake for them to celebrate seven years as a woman.

"We told him as gracefully as we could that that was a cake that we could not create because of the message, but that this attorney would be welcome in our shop any time for any other custom work or pick out anything else from the shop," Phillips said.

(credit: CBS)

Phillips is suing the state of Colorado saying that the accusation of discrimination proves the state doesn't respect his religious beliefs.

"We have no choice, but to go to federal court to try to sue the state commission to get them to stop suing me every time that I turn down a cake" he said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (credit: CBS)

Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, says he can see both sides.

"It's a difficult question. It's certainly one of the thorniest issues I've seen in 15 years of public service," Hickenlooper said.

The governor supports religious freedoms of individuals, but says people should never be denied goods or service based on their gender identity or sexual orientation.

"I don't think that's what America stands for and I don't think it's what Colorado stands for," said Hickenlooper.

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(credit: CBS)

While Phillips and his lawyers gear up for another legal fight, he just wants to get back to baking.

"I always serve everybody. I just don't create every message on every cake," Phillips said.

CBS4 reached out to the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies, but they said they do not comment on pending or active litigation. The governor also says he thinks that while the Supreme Court ruled the state was being hostile toward Phillips' beliefs, he hopes they will also make a ruling about whether making a cake is an expression of religious values and protected by the constitution.

Michael Abeyta is a 4th generation Coloradan and a Multimedia Journalist for CBS4. His stories can be seen on CBS4 News at 5 & 6. He is on Twitter! Follow him @AbeytaCBS4.

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