Judge Says Baker Can Deny Service Based On His Religious Beliefs

(Republicaninformer.com)- A judge in California ruled in favor of the owner of a bakery who refused to make a wedding cakes for a same-sex couple, saying that it violated the Christian beliefs she holds.

Cathy Miller, who owns Bakersfield’s Tastries Bakery, was sued by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, which claimed she discriminated against the same-sex couple intentionally. They said that violated the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.

Attorneys for Miller argued in court that she had a right to both free speech and free expression, and those rights hold precedent over any argument that she violated the law meant to prevent discrimination.

Last Friday, the judge in the case, Eric Bradshaw of the Kern County Superior Court, agreed with Miller. He ruled that Miller didn’t violate any laws while she was upholding beliefs she holds about Bible teachings about marriage.

Miller was represented in the case by lawyers with the Thomas More Society, a conservative organization who provided services to her pro-bono.

After the ruling was handed down, Miller spoke with local media outlet the Bakersfield Californian, saying:

“I’m hoping that in our community we can grow together. And we should understand that we shouldn’t push any agenda against anyone else.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Fair House and Employment said the agency hadn’t yet decided what to do in response to the ruling just yet. Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, the couple who sued, said they were expecting an appeal to be filed.

The issue at the heart of the case dates back quite a while now. The Supreme Court ruled seven years ago that people had a constitutional right to gay marriage, but many couples reported being discriminated against after that ruling was handed down.

Some, like Miller in the California case, said that making cakes for a same-sex couple would go against her religious beliefs.

Miller won the first case at the county level, but the 5th District Court of Appeal vacated that ruling, sending it back to the county once more. Miller won this second time, but the couple believes it’ll have a good case with the court of appeals once again.

As Eileen said after the ruling was handed down:

“Of course we’re disappointed but not surprised. We anticipate that our appeal will have a different result.”

A baker in Colorado is also the center of a similar lawsuit that is claiming he violated Colorado’s laws against discrimination when he refused to make a cake that would celebrate a gender transition.

The baker at the heart of that case, Jack Phillips, has previously won a partial victory at the Supreme Court level when about 10 years ago, he refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In that case, as in the latest one against him, he said it would violate his religious beliefs.

It’s uncertain whether Colorado’s court system will follow the lead of California in this case, but they’ll at least have a model now.