California baker wins lawsuit over gay wedding cake

A California state judge on Friday awarded a victory to a bakery owner who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, citing religious objections.

Kern County Superior Court Judge J. Eric Bradshaw ruled that the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment failed to show that Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller violated the law on the state’s Unruh civil rights by intentionally discriminating against the couple.

Miller had refused to make a custom cake for Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio in 2017 for their wedding and referred them to another bakery, according to court documents.

The judge ruled that baking the custom cake was “artistic expression,” so Miller’s First Amendment protections to free speech outweigh the state interest.

“[The department] failed to prove that the defendants intentionally discriminated against Eileen and Mireya because of their sexual orientation,” the judge said.

“The evidence showed affirmatively that Miller’s only intention, his only motivation, was loyalty to his sincere Christian beliefs,” Bradshaw continued. “Miller’s sole motivation for creating and following design standards, and for refusing to engage or become involved in designing a wedding cake for a wedding inconsistent with his faith, was to observe and to practice his own Christian faith.”

Another Kern County Superior Court judge ruled in Miller’s favor in 2018, but an appeals court later overturned the decision and sent it back to the lower court.

Charles LiMandri and others from the Thomas More Society, a conservative public interest law firm that represented Miller and regularly handles cases opposing same-sex marriage and abortion, hailed the judge’s decision as a victory for free speech and free expression of religion in World War I. Amendment.

“We commend the court on this decision,” said LiMandri, a special counsel for the law firm. “The freedom to practice one’s religion is enshrined in the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court has long supported freedom of artistic expression.”

The group had argued that Miller was following Bible teachings when she refused to bake the cake.

“There is a certain irony in this that a law intended to protect individuals against religious discrimination was used to discriminate against Cathy for her religious beliefs,” said Paul Jonna, also special counsel at the Thomas More Society.

The couple said they expect a call, according to The Associated Press.

The Hill contacted the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment for comment.

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