A California judge ruled Monday that the state cannot force a Christian baker to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, arguing that doing so would be a violation of free speech.
Superior Court Judge David Lampe denied the State of California’s request for a preliminary injunction that would’ve forced Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery, to either make wedding cakes for gay couples or not make wedding cakes at all. If she had complied in not baking wedding cakes at all she would’ve lost up to 40 percent of her business.
Miller’s legal troubles began last August when she told a lesbian couple that she could not design a cake for their wedding because of her religious beliefs that honored traditional marriage between a man and a woman. They couple then filed a complaint with the state, arguing that she discriminated against them, which forced the state to launch a formal investigation that resulted in a motion being filed last December seeking an order that would’ve forced Miller to make cakes for gay weddings.
“Cathy would never discriminate against anyone who walks through her bakery’s doors. She will gladly serve anyone, including same-sex couples,” Charles LiMandri, Chief Counsel in the case and President of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, argued in her defense at last week’s hearing. “But Cathy will not use her artistic talents to express messages that conflict with her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage. We are pleased that the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy’s freedom of speech.”
In his opinion, the judge said the issue isn’t about discrimination but rather, the First Amendment.
“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 forbid,” Lampe wrote. “For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.”
LiMandri called the ruling a "significant victory for faith and freedom."
“No doubt the California officials will continue their persecution of Cathy, but it is clear that she has the Constitution on her side," he added.