A California court has ruled that a Christian baker cannot be forced to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it would violate her First Amendment rights — a decision that runs against a national trend of cases now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled Monday that it would have been impermissible for baker Cathy Miller, who operates the Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield, to refuse to sell a cake that was already made to a same-sex couple. However, forcing her to bake a new cake would have been an impermissible form of coercion, he ruled.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
A wedding cake, even one without an inscription, “is an artistic expression by the person making it,” Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe said Monday in a ruling denying a state agency’s request to require the bakery owner, Cathy Miller, to comply with California’s antidiscrimination law.
“The state asks this court to compel Miller against her will and religion to allow her artistic expression in celebration of marriage to be co-opted to promote the message desired by same-sex marital partners,” Lampe said. “The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the state’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace.”
“Cathy would never discriminate against anyone who walks through her bakery’s doors,” said Charles LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, a religious conservative nonprofit. “She will gladly serve anyone, including same-sex couples.
“But Cathy will not use her artistic talents to express messages that conflict with her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage.”