A California judge recently ruled in favor of a baker who refused to design a same-sex wedding cake because supporting the union would violate her religious beliefs.
According to the Thomas More Society, a public interest law firm that handles religious liberty cases, Judge Eric Bradshaw rejected the state’s argument that it was discrimination to refuse to bake the cake.
Instead, the First Amendment protected the rights of the baker, Cathy Miller, ironically of Bakersfield, the judge determining in his ruling, released Friday.
Thomas More Society Special Counsel Charles LiMandri said in a statement, “We applaud the court for this decision. The freedom to practice one’s religion is enshrined in the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court has long upheld the freedom of artistic expression.”
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The controversy began In August 2017. Miller declined to bake a cake for a lesbian couple. She did offer to sell them a ready-made cake, and also referred them to another bakery.
Instead of simply accepting that, the couple turned to the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, which later described the couple in court filings as “stunned, offended, and hurt” by Miller’s response.
The couple “left [Miller’s shop] Tastries to cope with the indignity of being denied service solely because of their sexual orientation.”
Accordingly, the state of California was wholly unconcerned with Miller’s constitutional right to religious freedom.
As the Catholic News Agency reported, the state “investigated Miller and filed a petition asking the Superior Court for a preliminary injunction to force Tastries Bakery to either make wedding cakes for same-sex couples or not make wedding cakes at all.”
A state judge rejected the claims against Miller in 2018. But the state did not give up. California sued Miller again later that year. This time officials argued that Miller violated the couple’s civil rights.
Paul Jonna, another Thomas More Society special counsel, noted, “There’s a certain irony there that a law intended to protect individuals from religious discrimination was used to discriminate against Cathy for her religious beliefs.”
Until Friday, when Judge Bradshaw said Miller is free to keep her beliefs intact.
“I’m hoping that in our community we can grow together,” Miller told the Bakersfield Californian after the decision was handed down. “And we should understand that we shouldn’t push any agenda against anyone else.”
The state said it would appeal, meaning it will try to force its beliefs onto Miller.