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I'm the cake artist who won at the Supreme Court. Here's why I'm still in court

I stood in court with my Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys once again on Tuesday, asking the Colorado Supreme Court for justice on essentially the same complaint that’s been pursuing me, relentlessly, for more than 10 years now:  the demand that I express a message—whether I believe it or not.

I’m a cake artist. I treat my customers—each and all—with respect. I hope you know by now that I gladly serve people from all backgrounds. I decide to create custom cakes based on what they will express, not who requests them. It’s always the message, never the person.

And cakes often communicate. As far back as Roman times, people have requested custom cakes to express messages. Almost every day I’m asked to create one. It may include words, but often just a symbol will do. For example, parents will often ask me to create a custom cake with either a blue or pink interior to reveal the gender of their unborn child. Blue means a boy; pink means a girl. If I do a good job, the cake will reveal the secret.


A few years ago, an attorney asked me to create a different cake, blue on the outside and pink on the inside. The attorney said this cake’s theme would “celebrate” and “symbolize” a “transition from male to female.” I could see the symbolism. The attorney also asked me to create a custom cake depicting Satan smoking marijuana, admittedly trying to change what I believe. But I can’t create custom cakes expressing those messages for anyone. They go against what I believe. So I politely declined, offering the attorney anything I would provide to other customers.

Then I was sued. I was no stranger to court. State officials had been prosecuting me for five years, comparing me to Nazis and slaveholders and denying me the same freedom they extend to secular artists—all because they disagreed with my religious beliefs. The Supreme Court later ruled that this hostility violated my religious freedom. The win was a relief, but the court did not address my freedom of speech—so I was exposed to more harassment.

In these days of growing anger and social upheaval, civility is what my neighbors and millions of Americans are looking for. Coercion is not.

Six years later, I’m still in court. I’m again facing punishment for declining to express a message I don’t believe. But it’s not just my freedom at risk. It’s yours too. We can disagree about how to define marriage and whether someone can transition from male to female but still agree that the government should not force anyone to express a message they don’t believe.


If the state can punish me, it can force a lesbian designer to create custom graphics criticizing same-sex marriage; it can force a Black sculptor to create a white cross promoting the racist Aryan Nation Church; and it can force a Taiwanese cake artist to create a custom red cake to celebrate the communist revolution. No government should have that kind of power.

There is a better way.

LAKEWOOD, CO - AUGUST 15: Baker Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, manages his shop in Lakewood, Colo. August 15, 2018. Phillips has sued Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and state civil rights officials claiming Colorado has renewed its religious persecution of him in defiance of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision for refusing to create a cake commemorating gender transition.

Years ago, a local man, who identifies as gay and a former activist, heard of my situation. He came to my shop and introduced himself. He wanted to see for himself who I was and why I was taking this stand. I warmly welcomed him and asked how I could serve him. He’s been back at least 25 times. I’ve created cakes for him. He’s asked me to pray for things, and I have. We may disagree about some important issues. But he’s my friend and has testified on my behalf. That’s called civility: a cordial willingness to treat each other with kindness and respect.

In these days of growing anger and social upheaval, civility is what my neighbors and millions of Americans are looking for. Coercion is not.

Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the same Colorado law being used to punish me cannot force artists to express ideas they don’t believe. I stood before the Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday, asking it to reaffirm that important ruling.

After all, free speech is for everyone—even cake artists like me.


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