A California court on Friday ruled in favor of a Christian baker who refused to prepare a cake for a lesbian wedding. While the state argued that the baker had broken anti-discrimination laws, the court found that she was within her First Amendment rights.
The case dates back to 2017, when Cathy Miller of Bakersfield, California, referred a lesbian couple to another baker when they requested a cake for their wedding. Miller’s defense team said that while she would have “been happy to sell the two women a pre-made cake,” personally decorating one would have amounted to an approval of gay marriage, which is against her Christian beliefs.
Miller was targeted with multiple lawsuits, including one by the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, which argued that her refusal breached a 1959 civil rights law.
However, Judge J. Eric Bradshaw of the Superior Court of California declared that Miller did not intend to discriminate, but was motivated by “her sincere Christian beliefs,” which are protected by the US Constitution.
“We applaud the court for this decision,” defense attorney Charles LiMandri said. “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 lesbian couple who brought the case to the state’s attention told local media that they intend to appeal the verdict.
Bakeries have become an unlikely front on the cultural battlefield in the US in recent years. Colorado baker Jack Phillips won a partial victory in the Supreme Court in 2018, after a years-long legal battle stemming from his refusal to bake a cake for a gay couple. While the court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was guilty of anti-religious bias against Phillips, the baker was then embroiled in another lawsuit, this time over his refusal to bake a cake commemorating a gender transition.
Phillips was fined $500 after the court sided with the plaintiff, a transgender lawyer described by Phillips’ attorneys as a “radical activist.”
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