A California judge ruled in favor of a Christian baker who has been under fire over her refusal last August to make a same-sex wedding cake, finding that the state cannot force her to act against her sincerely held beliefs.
Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery, won her victory on Monday, with Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe drawing an interesting distinctive in the case.
Had Miller declined to make a cake that was already made and on display, he said she would have been guilty of discrimination.
But the cake the couple requested had not yet been made, and, according to KBAK, the baker offered the couple another means to get their cake at a different establishment. Lampe went as far as to say that forcing someone to violate his or her religious beliefs would be “the stuff of tyranny,” KGET-TV reported.
Miller was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing on behalf of Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, who had gone to Tastries Bakery to request a wedding cake; the couple reportedly was already married for six months when the refusal unfolded last August.
The baker is accused of violating the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which stops businesses from denying service based on race, sexual orientation and other indicators, Bakersfield.com reported.
Miller said that she was surprised by how quickly a verdict was reached, as arguments in the case unfolded on Friday.
“We knew the Lord was in control of this and we did what we were called to do,” she said. “Our bakery and our family feel very blessed that the judge ruled in our favor. Not to say that we want to be discriminatory, but we do need to stand up for our religious freedom and for our freedom of speech.”
Lampe’s ruling will stop an injunction that would have prevented Miller from denying service during the case, KBAK reported.
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It is unclear if the case will conclude here, but, for now, Miller has scored a judicial victory.
The debate over wedding venders’ refusal to serve same-sex weddings continues to forge on, with the U.S. Supreme Court poised to decide whether exemptions to non-discrimination laws are permissible. The high court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case could have sweeping ramifications for both religious liberty and equal protection rights.
The controversial legal battle surrounds Colorado baker Jack Phillips’ 2012 refusal of a same-sex wedding cake. Phillips, much like Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein and numerous other wedding venders across the U.S., has found himself in the crosshairs of the government as well as LGBTQ activists after declining to offer his services to a gay couple.
A decision on the Supreme Court case is expected by next summer.