A wedding cake at a reception for same sex couples is seen at The Abbey in West Hollywood, California, July 1, 2013.

For the second time in less than two months, the US Justice Department (DOJ) has bent over backward to undermine LGBT rights in pending lawsuits.

In July, the DOJ unexpectedly filed an amicus brief in Zarda v. Altitude Express, arguing that LGBT people are not protected from workplace discrimination under federal law. The case is a dispute about whether the prohibition on sex discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 encompasses discrimination against LGBT people.

Last week, the DOJ filed another brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a case pending before the Supreme Court. The department defended a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, arguing that his right to free expression would be violated if the state enforced a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation against him.

These filings look like the start of a worrying pattern. The DOJ isn’t a party to either case and there was no need for it to intervene. And in Zarda, the department attacked the position of another federal agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which had argued that Title VII does protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual workers.