Cathy Miller: Court rules in favor of California baker who refused to make cakes for same-sex couple

Cathy Miller: Court rules in favor of California baker who refused to make cakes for same-sex couple
Cathy Miller argued that it her freedom of speech and religious expression superseded California's anti-discrimination laws (tastriesbakery/Instagram)

BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA: An appeals court in California has sided with a baker who refused to prepare wedding cakes for a same-sex couple because it went against her Christian beliefs. The state Department of Fair Housing and Employment reportedly sued Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, arguing owner Cathy Miller intentionally discriminated against the same-sex couple in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. According to Miller's legal team, the claim that she broke the anti-discrimination law was superseded by her freedom of speech and religious expression. Judge Eric Bradshaw of the Kern County Superior Court concluded on Friday, October 21 that Miller's actions in preserving her convictions about what the Bible teaches about marriage were legal.

After the couple announced on social media that they had been informed by Miller that her design guidelines prohibited making cakes honoring their marriage, the issue gained national attention. The Tastries Bakery received a lot of hate on the internet, besides unpleasant emails and other messages as word of her actions spread. During the hearing, Judge Bradshaw ruled that Tastries' wedding cakes are ‘pure speech’ created and meant to be an aesthetic statement in support of unity in the sacrament of marriage. “Defendants’ pure and expressive speech is entitled to protection under the First Amendment,” Bradshaw remarked. 

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Miller and her pro bono lawyers with the conservative Thomas More Society celebrated the verdict as a First Amendment win. Miller told the Bakersfield Californian after the ruling, “I’m hoping that in our community we can grow together. And we should understand that we shouldn’t push any agenda against anyone else.” Meanwhile, the fair housing department said that they were aware of the verdict, according to a spokesman, but had not yet decided what to do. Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, the married couple, stated they intend to file another appeal. Eileen said, “Of course, we’re disappointed, but not surprised. We anticipate that our appeal will have a different result.”

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Miller had previously won in Kern County Superior Court, but that decision was later overturned by the 5th District Court of Appeal, which sent the case to the county. The bakery wrote on its Instagram page, "Yesterday, after much consideration and analysis of details regarding the Cathy’s Creations and Tastries Bakery discrimination case, Judge Eric Bradshaw ruled in favor of Cathy Miller. We appreciate your prayers and support as we joyfully continue to do business with you in the future." According to New York Post, the decision comes as a Colorado baker is challenging a ruling that said he violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to make a cake celebrating a gender transition. The baker, Jack Phillips, also separately won a partial US Supreme Court victory after refusing on religious grounds to make a gay couple’s wedding cake a decade ago.

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