Judge Rules In Favor Of Anti-Gay Baker In California With State Level Appeal Likely

The ruling comes as the nation awaits the Supreme Court's Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, to decide the issue on the federal level.

A judge has ruled in favor of a baker in California who refused to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples over her religious objections. The case will now likely head to the state level.

Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe issued his final judgment denying the State of California’s request to compel Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, to either create custom wedding cakes for same-sex couples or stop creating wedding cakes altogether.

Miller’s legal representatives, the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, celebrated the ruling, and said it was asking for $438,000 in attorneys’ fees. It also noted that the state could appeal the decision.

In August of last year, Miller told Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio that she would not make a cake for their upcoming wedding due to her religious beliefs.

“Everyone is God’s creation and I love everyone,” Miller, pictured above, has said. “But there are certain things that violate my conscience, and my conscience will not allow me to participate in things that I feel are wrong. Most of what that’s based on is scripture.”

The couple filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which brought the case to court.

In December, DFEH asked Lampe to issue a temporary restraining order banning Miller from selling anything she was unwilling to sell to all her customers, which he denied.

“The State asks this court to compel Miller against her will and religion to allow her artistic expression in celebration of marriage to be co-opted to promote the message desired by same-sex marital partners, and with which Miller disagrees,” Lampe said in his ruling denying the request for a restraining order, foreshadowing his final ruling in favor of Miller.

“We are disappointed but not surprised by ruling against the preliminary injunction,” Attorney Patricia Ziegler-Lopez, representing the state, said of Lampe’s decision back in December.

“Bakersfield and Kern County in general is very conservative, and that unfortunately includes some of the judges. But our fight against bigotry and discrimination is only beginning,” Ziegler-Lopez promised.

The case mirrors the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which is awaiting a ruling from the Supreme Court. A ruling in that matter, concerning baker Jack Phillips also refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples, is expected to be delivered sometime in the coming weeks, possibly as soon as the next decision day, May 21.

The Trump administration filed an amicus brief supporting Phillips, and has pushed for so-called “religious freedom” laws, creating two new offices dedicated to that end.

Trump signed an order on this year’s National Day of Prayer, creating a new faith-based office, “the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” to make recommendations and uphold issues concerning “religious liberty” to the executive branch.

Earlier this year, the administration created the new “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division” of the Department of Health and Human Services, devoted to ensuring doctors, nurses and health-care workers won’t have to offer services if they have a moral objection.

Jeff Taylor is a North Carolina-based journalist who writes for LGBTQ Nation, Q Notes and other outlets.
@jefftaylorhuman