Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe denied the state of California a temporary restraining order against a local bakery that refuses to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
Lampe ruled Thursday that he didn't have enough information to make the call.
But the case is scheduled to come back to Lampe on Feb. 2 at a hearing in which Tastries Bakery could be ordered to either make wedding cakes for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning community — or stop making wedding cakes altogether.
According to court records, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing petitioned the court to issue a restraining order against Tastries and owner Cathy Miller, prohibiting her from denying service to same-sex couples, as is her practice.
Daniel Piedra, executive director of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, which is defending Miller, said the government sought the temporary restraining order to force Miller into a tough position.
It would have required her to either make wedding cakes for LGTBQ couples or to not make wedding cakes for anyone, he said.
Piedra said Miller has been required to respond to the state with detailed personal and employment information that answers 40 questions.
Judge Lampe, he said, wants to see those answers before he rules on the restraining order.
The judge, Piedra said, felt both sides had important rights that must be seriously considered prior to taking any action.
According to a press release from the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, "the government wanted a court order to compel Miller to create wedding cakes for LGBT persons even though doing so would violate her sincerely held religious beliefs."
Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel for the organization, said in the press release the case was an assault on Christians and accused the state of using surprise tactics to get the court to approve the restraining order.
The case first came about in August when Miller personally refused to make a wedding cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, the couple said, and their concerns, expressed on social media, triggered a firestorm of debate locally.
One other same-sex couple also said they were denied a wedding cake by Miller.
Miller, at the time, said she loves all people.
But, she said, "My conscience doesn't allow me to participate in certain activities that are contrary to my biblical beliefs. I pray that we can all come to an understanding so that we can continue to get along."
Patricia Ziegler-Lopez, who represents the Rodriguez-Del Rios, confirmed that the temporary restraining order was denied by the judge.
Kevin Kish, director of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, issued a statement on the hearing Thursday afternoon.
"California respects and celebrates diverse religious beliefs and freedom of speech, but does not create exceptions to its civil rights laws to allow businesses to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation," he wrote. "After a careful review of the preliminary facts, DFEH concluded that legal intervention was warranted to ensure equal access to services and prevent harm resulting from discrimination until our investigation is complete. We will appear in court on Feb. 2 in compliance with the judge's ruling."
Miller's stance seems to have put her and Tastries at odds with California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which makes it illegal for businesses to discriminate against people based on a number of factors including sexual orientation.
Similar cases across the country are coming to the fore as conservative business owners respond to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Colorado bakery owner Jack Phillips who was sued by a gay couple who attempted to purchase a wedding cake from him.
The Tastries case is set to return to court for a hearing on Feb. 2, according to Piedra.