BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A California Superior Court judge is ruling Christians can't be forced to provide cakes for so-called same-sex weddings.
Judge David Lampe ruled on Monday that Cathy Miller, the owner of Tastries in Bakersfield, is entitled to refuse to make custom cakes for same-sex weddings.
He wrote in his ruling, "A wedding cake is not just cake in Free Speech analysis. It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as a centerpiece in the celebration of marriage," adding, "There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct."
Lampe continues, "The State cannot succeed on the facts presented as a matter of law. The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State's interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace." He asserts, "The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most profound protest is silence."
In August 2017, two women went into Miller's business and asked for a customized cake for their upcoming same-sex wedding. Miller commented she was unable to comply with their request and directed them to another local bakery that would make their cake.
Instead, the women complained to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing department, claiming a violation of civil rights.
Miller's lawyer, Charles LiMandri, commented, "This is a major victory for faith and freedom because the judge indicated in his ruling that the State cannot succeed in this case as a matter of law." He added, "No doubt, the California officials will continue their persecution of Cathy, but it is clear that she has the Constitution on her side."
Lampe clarified that according to California state law, bakers cannot refuse premade cakes for sale in public display cases to customers based on race, religion, gender or so-called gender identification. The distinction in Miller's case is that a custom cake was being requested by the same-sex couple.
LiMandri is asking for the case to be dismissed but the plaintiffs are promising to continue to "fight against bigotry and discrimination."
The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a similar case about a Christian baker in Colorado who also refused to sell a cake to be used for a same-sex wedding. The court's decision will set the precedent for many similar cases.