California Judge Rules in Favor of Baker Who Refused to Bake a Cake for Same-Sex Wedding
A Superior Court Judge has issued a final judgment in the case of a Bakersfield, California baker who would not make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. According to court documents, Judge David Lampe entered his ruling in favor of the baker on May 1.
In August, 2017, two women went to Tastries Bakery to taste cakes for their same-sex wedding. Owner Cathy Miller told the couple that she could not bake a cake for their wedding because she was a Christian. She referred the couple to another bakery in town that would. She then offered the couple some cupcakes.
In an interview with 23ABC News, Cathy said that she and her family are Christians. “We love everyone, God created everyone. There are certain things that violate my conscience. My conscience will not allow me to participate in things that I feel are wrong. Our business is God’s business. We work for Him. Participating in a celebration of a same-sex marriage goes against my conscience.”
The couple complained to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Their complaint stated that Miller had refused their business because they were lesbians. They argued that Miller violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The Act bars public businesses from denying service to individuals based on, among other things, sexual orientation.
The State of California filed suit against Miller and Tastries Bakery. The suit asked the judge to force Miller to make custom wedding cakes for same-sex couples. An alternate request was to ban her from making wedding cakes at all. Miller was defended by Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF). FCDF is an allied attorney firm with Alliance Defending Freedom.
The Judge’s Original Decision
In his original decision, Lampe said in part:
The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace. The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most profound protest is silence.
His opinion also stated that the state was not asking the court to order Miller to simply sell a cake. “The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids.” He added that to force Miller to bake the cake would “do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.”
Miller’s Freedom of Speech
Charles LiMandri is FCDF’s President and chief counsel. He said that Miller serves anyone who comes to the bakery, including same-sex couples. “But she should not be forced by the government to express messages that conflict with her sincerely held religious beliefs. We are pleased the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy’s freedom of speech.”
While the judgment closes the case in Superior Court, the state can still appeal to the state court of appeals.