The Proof Of The Pudding…Er, Cake

What was that line from Jaws? He’s baaaack….

Remember the Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, and took his case all the way to the Supreme Court? Although headlines suggested he’d won his case, the Court actually punted, because it found that the initial consideration of his argument by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had denied him “the neutral and respectful consideration” to which he was entitled.

That case thus failed to set a precedent or resolve the issue. So guess what–Mr. “sincere religious belief” is back, this time for refusing to bake a cake for a transgender customer.

Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., on Tuesday filed another federal lawsuit against the state alleging religious discrimination.

This time, the cake at the center of the controversy was not for a wedding. In June 2017, Colorado lawyer Autumn Scardina called Masterpiece Cakeshop to request a custom cake that was blue on the outside and pink on the inside.

The occasion, Scardina told the bakery’s employees, was to celebrate her birthday, as well as the seventh anniversary of the day she had come out as transgender.

Masterpiece Cakeshop ultimately refused Scardina’s order on religious grounds.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission once again found Phillips guilty of discrimination, and once again, he has filed a federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination.

I have no idea whether the transgender customer was part of an effort to test Phillips’ assertion–in the context of the original case–that he served everyone, and only objected to using his cake-baking “art” to celebrate occasions he “sincerely” believed to be sinful. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Leaving aside the (strong) legal justification for civil rights laws, here’s what strikes me about Masterpiece Cakeshop, the sequel.

As I’ve previously noted, if I owned a bakery, and I sincerely didn’t want to bake a cake for a customer (for any reason–maybe the customer has just been a pain in the derriere), I would simply say something like, “Gee, Mrs. Smith, I am so backed up with orders that I can’t take any more until after the date you need the cake,” or “I’m so sorry, Mr. Jones, but I’m short-handed right now…”

In other words, there are lots of ways you can refrain from “participating in sin” without issuing a self-righteous sermon to justify the abstention.

People in business who want to stay in business avoid unnecessarily pissing people off–especially people who are part of communities that are likely to take offense and stop patronizing your store. (A couple of years ago, a bakery not far from my house did refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, and told them the refusal was based upon the owners’ religious beliefs. This is a gay-friendly neighborhood, the couple shared their experience, and six months later the bakery was no longer in business.)

Even if the religious belief that requires you to refuse baking a cake is sincere, I know of no religious doctrine that requires you to be a horse’s ass about the refusal. If your religious beliefs require you to turn away business by lecturing your hapless would-be customers about the wages of sin, you have no business being in business. (And you probably won’t be for long.)

Forgive my cynicism, but Mr. Phillips sounds far more interested in theatrically demeaning LGBTQ folks and being a tool for right-wing legal activists than in running a bakery.


  1. Again this, “Forgive my cynicism, but Mr. Phillips sounds far more interested in theatrically demeaning LGBTQ folks and being a tool for right-wing legal activists than in running a bakery.”

    I do believe this publicity stunt was probably pulled off by Mr. Phillips himself.

    If I remember correctly, his business rose dramatically among the Land of Bigots.

    When 85% of the media is controlled by only a few companies, what we receive is a message very filtered and intentional. Colorado is a very progressive state so creating Mr. Phillips as an avenger of evil or warrior against sin, the Evangelists will be able to go nuts along with Faux News.

    Transgenders are winning elections against mainstream Democrats as well, so it serves both political parties as we end primaries and head for the General Election.

    Politics is a dirty game when winning is the ONLY thing that counts.

    Speaking of news and timing…did anyone notice the two Tweets of our current and former POTUS about the death of Aretha Frankin?

    Trump’s Tweet: “The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is dead. She was a great woman, with a wonderful gift from God, her voice. She will be missed!”

    Obama’s Tweet: “Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. May the Queen of Soul rest in eternal peace.”

    Colorado was/is having their primary elections soon, so “trumping” up the base was the point behind the cake bigot.

  2. “Forgive my cynicism, but Mr. Phillips sounds far more interested in theatrically demeaning LGBTQ folks and being a tool for right-wing legal activists than in running a bakery.”

    I wonder; thinking about the bakery in Sheila’s neighborhood closing, Did Phillips gain or lose customers and profit with his last law suit? If he gained, he is seeking more profit, if he lost he is trying to recoup his loses. his ego comparable to Trump’s and he is seeking more photo ops and free publicity for his bakery. A wiser man (baker) would bake the cake, pocket the profit and paint an anti-LGBTQ sign to carry in the next Pride Day Parade…as is his right protected by the 1st Amendment right of all religious bigots.

    “Even if the religious belief that requires you to refuse baking a cake is sincere, I know of no religious doctrine that requires you to be a horse’s ass about the refusal. “

  3. I’m wondering why a transgender person would actually ask this guy to bake a cake for her. Is there really an Autumn Scardina?

  4. were always wondering, but, when this denial is based on a religious belief, one might ask, about the line from the bible, about respecting one anothers beliefs,and person. if this baker, is standing on moral ground,may it be the swamp hes upholding,,,

  5. In other words, there are lots of ways you can refrain from “participating in sin” without issuing a self-righteous sermon to justify the abstention.

    From what I have noticed in recent years, wingnut judges decide any burden on a conservative, so called kristian is an insurmountable problem for that person, while allowing every conceivable roadblock be placed in front of a woman exercising her rights to bodily autonomy.

  6. As an aside, it is usually not a good idea to anger the person making your food.

    Gregg Popovich, NBA coach had this to say about President Agent Orange: “We take our eye off the ball, and he’s great at it,” Popovich continued. “He brings out the dark side of human beings for his own purpose, which is himself. And if it’s not pointed out and people don’t stand up and point it out, it will become commonplace, and it’s not the world that I want to live in.”

    “This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his.”

    We have many pundits in the media who ramble on about President Agent Orange, it took a Coach in the NBA just a few sentences to sum up President Agent Orange.

    The reality TV Show of President Agent Orange continues. I must say with a sense of glee, President Agent Orange has met his match with fellow reality TV personality Omarosa Manigault Newman. Lara Trump, Agent Orange’s daughter-in-law offered Omarosa a job in the Agent Orange Campaign after she was fired from her do nothing job in the White House. This follows an Agent Orange of buying silence. Ahh, but this latest maneuver, only lacked Cohen as a fixer.

    The last time I saw President Agent Orange he looked totally puked out. Given President Agent Orange’s Method of Operation, he will attempt a diversion.

  7. I want to think all the allies of those of us in the LGBTQ community who boycotted the bakery which resulted in their going out of business. This guy is doing this for his “base” so to speak. It is unfortunate that his bakery remains open. That neighborhood must have a lot of homophobic people.

    Thanks so much Shiela for all you do toward working for the greater good.

  8. Jack clearly didn’t understand the SCOTUS ruling- he didn’t win, the Commission lost. As I recall, the court only sort of punted the issue by saying the Colorado civil rights law had to be fairly enforced. Yeah, it looked like the ruling begs the question for Jack, but I think they did say religion could not be used as a justification to ignore the law, otherwise it could be used to ignore any law.

    In any case, maybe this time Jack will get the message that being a bigoted asshole isn’t a protected class.

  9. Off subject but an excellent article, since I suspect some of us here are senior citizens:
    Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
    Older Americans are going bankrupt in record numbers. Under a front page headline, “Bankruptcy Booms among Older Americans as Safety Net Frays,” the August 6 New York Times relates how the rate at which Americans 65 and older file for personal bankruptcy has tripled since 1991. This data comes from a new study by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project, “Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy: Fallout from Life in a Risk Society.”

    The Times advances several reasons for the bankruptcy surge.
    “Soaring medical expenses.”
    For Americans 65 and older, there is Medicare, but Medicare does not cover all medical expenses. This is due, the Times says, to “gaps in coverage, high premiums and requirements that patients shoulder some costs.”

    For the really desperate, there is GoFundMe. The CEO of GoFundMe has said that 1 in 3 of its crowdfunding campaigns are for medical expenses.

    Under capitalism, the weak—the elderly, children, minorities, the poor, the disabled—are chewed up and spit out. Older Americans do their best to remain independent. You see them as greeters at Walmart or behind the register at McDonalds, working till they drop. For some of them, bankruptcy has taken the place of the social safety net.

  10. The problem with 15 minutes of fame is it is addictive. The baker is trying for 30 minutes.

    His religion can’t be the subject of our laws.

    If he’s happy with his gender, guess what? He can keep it.

  11. My first thought: Ms Scardina, as an attorney, was purposely calling this particular bakery in order to further test the law.

    And, you are so right, Sheila, there are obtuse ways to deflect doing something you don’t want to do when you are in business!

  12. A fundamental and apparently difficult choice for humans is freedom vs power. One reason is that viewed through the eyes of any one individual they are the same. If I had unlimited power I would also have unlimited freedom but nobody else would have any because of my power over them.

    So the choice is really between freedom for all vs power for me.

    Americans have always been quite proud in my experience that we seemed to be doing as well as any country ever in terms of being free but lately pervasive entertainment media has caused a great deal of confusion about that. It’s now common among the most addicted to entertainment media to believe that we are not a democracy at all and that rule of a minority is the only way for them to have the freedom that they are entitled to. Of course the minority would have to be them and thanks to the Second Ammendment they can enforce their dreams of power or so they believe.

    It has gotten beyond dangerous for the country.

    At the risk of repetition diluting rather than reinforcing the message we have Novemeber 6th. I really do believe that that is the only chance we’ll get for a democratic solution. The founders gave us the concept of checks and balances among Branches as protection of our freedom and the Republicans have completely ducked that responsibility. They simply have to be replaced at every opportunity. It’s not sufficient but it is an absolutely necessary step to avoid what armies could never achieve here. Conquering freedom.

  13. The “gay cake” issue is the most borderline of the civil/human rights issues that have been politically popularized. It is clear that we should compel people not to own slaves. It is clear that we should compel people to do business with all races and genders general. It is not clear we should compel people to bake cakes customized for gay weddings. Maybe we should, but it’s a borderline sort of issue that a reasonable person could see either way.

    Thus it is a perfect tool to divide people, carving off potential religious democrats and enraging the evangelicals in general. This is clearly all about riling up the base before the election.

  14. Of course another way to view the problem is if we allow people to serve the public with a business why shouldn’t that include all of the public that do not threaten the business in any way?

  15. I like your explanation. It reminds me of my Dad once telling me that there must be a place somewhere that is populated by the front half of horses. It just made sense, he said, because he encounters so many of the other ends of horses on a daily basis. Now more than ever.

  16. The easiest way to refuse to do work on the grounds of this is using my creative ability and task performance with something I disagree with is to have a right to outsource clause with anyone so that the business still takes on the project and can outsource as long as the it meets everyone’s standards involved. What if the KKK walks in? Just to make a point. I wouldn’t feel comfortable and let’s not go into the design they might want statement to further make my point clear.
    Even though no one seems to be really interested in this issue I agree with The professor and watch a movie called Guernsey by Netflix.
    The point is we need to live together without making anyone feel that they are the loser. Our losses in life come quickly.

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