A California judge ruled Friday in favor of a bakery in Bakersfield whose Christian owner refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
Breaking news! Cake designer Cathy Miller has been vindicated in the California courts for practicing her Christian principles on the job. https://t.co/uKjag4XgzT
— @ThomasMoreSoc (@ThomasMoreSoc) October 22, 2022
Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery and a schoolteacher for 30 years, was asked to bake a wedding cake by Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio in October 2017. After Miller politely suggested they look somewhere else, the lesbian couple first found another bakery that would make the cake for them, then complained to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
“The uncontroverted evidence showed that Miller’s sincere faith permeates her life and work, and is ‘founded on God’s words,’” Judge Eric Bradshaw of the Superior Court of California in Kern County wrote in his decision. “As the owner of Tastries, Miller considers herself a ‘steward’ of ‘the Lord’s business he put in (her) hands,’ and that she ‘cannot participate in something that would hurt him and not abide by his precepts in the Bible.’”
“We applaud the court for this decision,” Special Counsel Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Society, which defended Miller, stated. “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.”
The plaintiffs cited California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which provides protection from discrimination by business establishments on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion, to buttress their claim against Miller.
“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,” fellow Special Counsel Paul Jonna of the Thomas More Society pointed out.
After the judge ruled in her favor Miller wrote on Facebook, “’We appreciate your prayers and support as we joyfully continue to do business with you in the future. 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.’
During the trial, Anthony Mann, an attorney for the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, tried to impugn Miller’s Christian faith, asking her, “Do you try to follow everything that the Bible says?”
“I do my best, but I’m a sinner, but I do my best,” Miller replied.
“Do you follow some of the eating practices from the Old Testament in terms of not eating pigs, not eating shellfish, et cetera?” Mann pressed.
“The state was actually questioning the sincerity of Cathy’s faith,” Jonna declared. “The fact that they called Miller’s open and sincerely held beliefs into question is almost as disturbing as quibbling over her status as an artist.”
Bradshaw noted an incident in which a man wanted Miller to make a seven-tiered caked for his wedding anniversary at which he would tell his wife he was divorcing her. “Miller declined to make the cake,” Bradshaw noted, “telling the man that she was ‘not going to be a part of something like that.’”