The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has decided to dismiss its pending discrimination charge against Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop. Phillips, you will recall, refused on grounds of his deeply held religious beliefs to bake a cake to celebrate a gay marriage. The Commission found him in violation of the law and imposed severe punishment. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Phillips prevailed.
Thereafter, Phillips refused to bake a cake to celebrate someone’s transition from male to female, a request made immediately after Phillips’ victory in the Supreme Court. This led to another civil rights complaint — the one the Commission finally dropped today.
In the Supreme Court case, Justice Kennedy, who cast the decisive vote, based his ruling on the obvious bias against religion that animated the Colorado Commission’s charge against Phillips. A commissioner described Phillips’ reliance of his religious beliefs as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to. . .hurt others.” Kennedy denounced this statement.
Their show of solidarity must have made them feel good. However, it held little promise of making another ruling against Jack Phillips stick.
Nonetheless, the Colorado Commission persevered. It told Phillips he would face another discrimination charge for refusing to make the sex-change celebration cake.
Phillips sued the Commission. A federal judge denied the Commission’s motion to dismiss Phillips’ case.
But now, the Commission has given up the fight. It will drop its complaint against Phillips. He will not be punished or deemed guilty of discrimination for refusing to make a cake celebrating the activist’s sex change. In exchange, Phillips will drop his lawsuit accusing the Commission of harassing him — as surely the Commission did.
Phillips has been represented throughout his ordeal by the Alliance Defending Freedom (AFD). Kristen Waggoner, a Senior Vice President at AFD who argued on behalf of Phillips at the U.S. Supreme Court, issued this statement:
Jack’s victory is great news for everyone. Tolerance and respect for good-faith differences of opinion are essential in a diverse society like ours. They enable us to peacefully coexist with each another. But the state’s demonstrated and ongoing hostility toward Jack because of his beliefs is undeniable.
Waggoner is exactly right. The lack of respect for religious belief demonstrated repeatedly by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is emblematic of the thinking that may well lead us into “cold civil war,” if we aren’t already there.