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Baker, Colorado reach ceasefire agreement on harassment, discrimination

(Photo via Pixabay)

DENVER — Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Philips and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission have agreed to drop their respective legal actions against each other.

Philips was the baker who refused to make a wedding cake for two men and became the center of a years-long legal battler that reached the Supreme Court. The court ruled that the state had been hostile to his religion, but made no ruling on whether Philips could refuse service due to religious objections.

The Denver Post reported that Philips had sued the state agency for harassing him while the commission had a second discrimination complaint against him from a transgender woman. The agreement has both sides stopping all legal action and each paying their own legal costs.

From the Denver Post:

“After careful consideration of the facts, both sides agreed it was not in anyone’s best interest to move forward with these cases,” Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser said in a news release Tuesday announcing the agreement. “The larger constitutional issues might well be decided down the road, but these cases will not be the vehicle for resolving them.”

The agreement marks the end of legal proceedings between Colorado and cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who has said he cannot make such cakes because it would violate his Christian beliefs. Phillips has battled the state Civil Rights Commission in two separate cases, arguing in each that his right to freedom of speech and religion protect his decision to not bake cakes with LGBTQ themes.

The Civil Rights Commission unanimously voted to approve the agreement between the two sides Tuesday morning, said Lawrence Pacheco, a spokesman for Weiser. The attorney general’s office represents the commission and the director of the Colorado Civil Rights Division, who also was named in Phillips’ lawsuit.

Even though the legal action basically comes to a draw, Philips’s lawyers with the Alliance Defending Freedom called it a victory.

“This is the second time the state has launched a failed effort to prosecute him,” attorney Kristen Waggoner told the Post. “While it finally appears to be getting the message that its anti-religious hostility has no place in our country, the state’s decision to target Jack has cost him more than six-and-a-half years of his life, forcing him to spend that time tied up in legal proceedings.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is a conservative legal group that often fights legal battles for people claiming “religious freedom” in discrimination cases.

One Colorado, a statewide LGBTQ civil rights group, told the Post on Tuesday that the agreement does not affect how the state’s anti-discrimination law protects people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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