A lawsuit filed against a local baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple was allowed to proceed Tuesday and a trial date is expected to be set during a hearing next month.
Charles LiMandri, the attorney representing Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller, said Superior Court Judge David Lampe denied a motion that would have ended the case Tuesday.
But LiMandri said if the facts of the case bear out he's confident they'll prevail. He noted Lampe has not budged from his earlier ruling stating the making of a wedding cake is protected artistic expression.
"The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State's interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace," Lampe wrote in the February 2018 ruling. "The right of freedom of thought guaranteed by the First Amendment includes the right to speak, and the right to refrain from speaking. Sometimes the most profound protest is silence."
Lampe's ruling, however, did not address the underlying case but simply denied a preliminary injunction which would have compelled Tastries to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples from the time the injunction was granted to the day the case was concluded.
Following the ruling, state Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed suit seeking damages under the Unruh Civil Rights Act. The suit was filed on behalf of the department and Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, the married couple who were refused service at the bakery.
"Tastries and Ms. Miller's refusal to provide full and equal wedding cake services to the Rodriguez-Del Rios constituted discrimination based on sexual orientation in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act," the state argued in the complaint.
A case management conference — where a trial date will be set — is scheduled for April 15. The case is expected to go to trial sometime next year.