AG Letitia James advocates for transgender rights in Colorado Supreme Court case

March 1, 2024 Robert Abruzzese, Courthouse Editor
Attorney General Letitia James
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Attorney General Letitia James has joined forces with a coalition of 18 attorneys general in support of a transgender customer who faced discrimination from Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. The shop, owned by Jack Phillips, previously made headlines for refusing service to a same-sex couple, and is now under scrutiny for denying a cake to celebrate a transgender woman’s transition.

In 2018, Autumn Scardina attempted to order a cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop, but upon disclosing the celebration of her gender transition, was denied service. This led to Scardina filing a lawsuit against the bakery, alleging a violation of Colorado’s public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics. The lower courts ruled in Scardina’s favor, a decision the Colorado Supreme Court is now reviewing.

The coalition, including Attorney General James, filed an amicus brief urging the Colorado Supreme Court to uphold the lower court’s decision. They argued that public accommodation laws are crucial for preventing discrimination and emphasized the broader societal and economic harm caused by such discriminatory practices. 

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The brief highlighted the negative impacts of discrimination on LGBTQ+ individuals, including increased risks of mental health issues and suicide attempts, arguing that civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans can mitigate these health risks.

“Denying service to someone simply because of who they are is illegal discrimination, plain and simple,” said Attorney General James. “Allowing this kind of behavior would undermine our nation’s fundamental values of freedom and equality and set a dangerous precedent. I am proud to stand with my fellow attorneys general against this blatant transphobic discrimination.”

Attorney General James has been vocal in her support for LGBTQ+ rights, leading several coalitions advocating for anti-discrimination protections at both state and federal levels. This includes challenging policies that restrict transgender students’ access to gender-affirming facilities and participation in sports, as well as supporting equal access to gender-affirming care.

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