Judge rules in favor of Christian baker who refused to bake wedding cake for same-sex couple

A California judge has ruled in favor of a Christian baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. | Pixabay/devb0

A judge in California has issued a final judgment on the case of a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe issued a final ruling on May 1 upholding his earlier decision to allow Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller to continue rejecting orders for same-sex wedding cakes.

"The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell a 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," Lampe said in his ruling, according to Church Militant.

"For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment," he continued.

The case against Miller stems from a complaint filed by Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio, who accused the baker of violating a law that prohibits businesses from refusing service to customers on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Bakersfield.com reported that lawyers with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed the lawsuit against Miller and her bakery.

Miller, who was represented by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund's (FCDF) in court, has contended that she cannot bake a same-sex wedding cake because it would violate her conscience.

Lempe had ruled in February that Miller's First Amendment Rights outweighs the state's anti-discrimination law. He argued that Miller's rights were protected under artistic expression, but he cautioned that businesses are still now allowed to discriminate in any other circumstances.

The judge pointed to the example of finished products on display as opposed to those that need to be created after an order from a customer.

He noted that business owners who put their products up for public display are not allowed to refuse to sell on the basis of race, gender, religion or gender identity.

FCDF President and chief legal counsel Carles LiMandri hailed the decision, saying: "We are pleased the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy's freedom of speech."

The legal firm noted that Miller may still face the possibility of losing her bakery as the government can still appeal Lempe's decision in the state court of appeals.

According to San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Miller's lawyers are seeking $438,000 in legal fees from the plaintiffs.