Score one for the Constitution.
A judge in Kern County, California on Monday ruled in favor of a bakery owned sued by a same-sex couple for refusing to bake a cake for their wedding, KGET reports.
Judge David Lampe said the state could not force Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller to violate her beliefs because a wedding cake is ultimately a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment.
“A wedding cake is not just cake in Free Speech analysis,” Lampe argued. “It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as centerpiece in the celebration of marriage. There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct.
“Here, Rodriguez—Del Rios plan to engage in speech. They plan celebration to declare the validity of their marital union and their enduring love for one another.
“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, and with which Miller disagrees.”
One of the chief factors in the judge’s decision was the fact that the cake requested by plaintiffs Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio had not yet been baked and was not yet for sale.
“The State’s purpose to ensure an accessible public marketplace free from discrimination is laudable and necessary public goal. No vendor may refuse to sell their public goods, or services (not fundamentally founded upon speech) based upon their perception of the gender identification of their customer, even upon religious grounds. retail tire shop may not refuse to sell tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples. There is nothing sacred or expressive about tire.
“No artist, having placed their work for public sale, may refuse to sell for an unlawful discriminatory purpose. No baker may place their wares in public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to
sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification.
“The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of marital union her religion forbids. For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.”
Lampe also said there were other competent bakers in the area to whom the couple could have gone.
An attorney for the couple said, “This is only the beginning. It is just one battle in the war against discrimination.”
Miller told KGET that she was “shocked” to hear the verdict.
“Of course we had hope that it would come in our favor, but we knew the Lord was in control of this and we did what we were called to do.”
The baker concluded:
“Our bakery and our family feel very blessed that the judge ruled in our favor. Not to say that we want to be discriminatory, but we do need to stand up for our religious freedom and for our freedom of speech.”