Christian Baker Wins Court Case
A California judge ruled late Monday that a Christian baker who faced losing her business because she refuses to bake cakes for same-sex weddings cannot be compelled by the state to do so.
Christian baker Cathy Miller, who owns Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, was facing discrimination charges filed by the state after she refused to make a wedding cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio last August, citing her religious beliefs.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing petitioned the court to issue a restraining order against Miller and her bakery to force the company to make cakes for same-sex weddings or stop making wedding cakes altogether if she refused.
In rejecting the state’s petition against Miller, Superior Court Judge David Lampe said in his opinion that her decision to refuse to bake cakes for same-sex weddings is protected by the First Amendment.
“The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered,” Lampe wrote.
“Furthermore, here the State minimizes the fact that Miller has provided for an alternative means for potential customers to receive the product they desire through the services of another talented baker who does not share Miller’s belief. Miller is not the only wedding cake creator in Bakersfield. The fact that Rodriguez-Del Rios feel they will suffer indignity from Miller’s choice is not sufficient to deny constitutional protection,” he said.
Lampe argued in his opinion that while the prevention of discrimination was a laudable objective of the state, asking a Christian baker to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding would be a violation of the baker’s right to freedom of expression.
“The State’s purpose to ensure an accessible public marketplace free from discrimination is laudable and necessary public goal. No vendor may refuse to sell their public goods, or services (not fundamentally founded upon speech) based upon their perception of the gender identification of their customer, even upon religious grounds. A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples. There is nothing sacred or expressive about a tire,” Lampe wrote.
“No artist, having placed their work for public sale, may refuse to sell for an unlawful discriminatory purpose. No baker may place their wares in a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification. The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell 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. For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment,” he added.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund which represented Miller in the case said Lampe’s ruling represented a win for religious liberty.
“This is a major victory for faith and freedom because the judge indicated in his ruling that the State cannot succeed in this case as a matter of law. No doubt the California officials will continue their persecution of Cathy, but it is clear that she has the Constitution on her side,” Charles LiMandri, chief counsel in the case and president of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund said in a statement.
Daniel Piedra, executive director of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund said Miller was elated with the decision according to ABC 23.
“Cathy was in her bakery when we called and to say the least, she was jubilant and absolutely elated,” Piedra said.
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