Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe has ruled that owner Cathy Miller can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same sex couples.

But his ruling, on a motion for preliminary injunction, only leaves Miller alone until the full case comes to trial. The next hearing on the case is set for June. But Miller's attorney said he will move for dismissal of the case immediately because of the strength of Lampe's ruling.

Lampe's ruling relied heavily on the First Amendment to the Constitution.

“The State cannot succeed on the facts presented as a matter of law. The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the State’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace,” Lampe wrote in his ruling on Monday. “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.”

The case, which has received national attention, began in August when Miller – a conservative Christian – refused to make a wedding cake for Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio.

Miller said it went against her Christian beliefs to make a cake for a same sex couple.

The Rodriguez-Del Rioses made a complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing that Miller had violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The Act prohibits public businesses from denying service to anyone on the basis of a number of characteristics including race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Lawyers for DFEH filed suit against Tastries and Miller, who was defended pro-bono by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund.

Miller, at a prayer rally before the court hearing on Friday, said God gave her the ability to make beautiful cakes and she is committed to using it in the way she believes God wants her to.

“If we’re not able to follow our conscience we’re no longer able to be who God created us to be,” Miller said. “I am incapable of doing something that would hurt my Lord and Savior.”

In court her attorney, Charles LiMandri, made the argument that Miller’s free speech rights and her right to free expression of religion trump the state’s arguments that she violated a law against discrimination.

“It’s a work of art as far as my client is concerned,” LiMandri said. “In my client’s mind this is a free exercise case."

Lampe, in essence, ruled that Miller’s First Amendment rights trumped the state law she violated.

His argument, however was closely tied to Miller’s role as an artist in producing cakes which – he found – are protected artistic expression.

“A wedding cake is not just a cake in a Free Speech analysis. It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as a centerpiece in the celebration of a marriage,” Lampe wrote. “There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct. Here, Rodriguez—Del Rios plan to engage in speech. They plan a 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.”

But Lampe wrote that his ruling was tied closely to the fact that Miller was being asked to create a cake for an event.

And he cautioned that religion does not give businesses a right to refuse service to groups protected by the Unruh Act in other circumstances.

“A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples. There is nothing sacred or expressive about a 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 a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification,” Lampe wrote.

His distinction, he said, is between the act of selling a product to a same-sex couple and creating a product for the same couple.

“The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked,” Lampe wrote. “The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell a cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a 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.”

LiMandri expressed his satisfaction with the outcome in a statement Monday evening.

“This is a significant victory for faith and freedom because the judge indicated in his ruling that the State cannot succeed in this case as a matter of law. No doubt the California officials will continue their persecution of Cathy, but it is clear that she has the Constitution on her side,” he wrote.

Miller said Tuesday she was surprised and overjoyed by the ruling.

“We were so joyful. We weren’t expecting it to be so soon. We started screaming and praising God because we felt we had been heard,” she said.

She said she respected the distinction Lampe made between the sales of a cake and the creation of one.

“I am very happy to serve everything from my cases to anybody,” she said. “But I cannot be a part of a celebration that goes against my lord and savior.”

Miller thanked her lawyers who she called, “amazing men of god.”

Patricia Ziegler-Lopez, the attorney for the Rodriquez-Del Rioses said their fight is not over.

"We are disappointed but not surprised by ruling against the preliminary injunction. Bakersfield and Kern County in general is very conservative and that unfortunately includes some of the judges. But it’s not over. Our fight against bigotry and discrimination is only beginning," she wrote in an e-mail.

James Burger can be reached at 661‑395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @KernQuirks.

(31) comments

GeckoHiker

People who have embraced victimhood had a hard time understanding that their civil rights only extend to the point that another person's civil rights begin. Going after a single proprietor who doesn't want to enter into a contract with you is merely revenge. Nobody in America is compelled to enter into a contract to create an item or perform a service for you. When there is no meeting of the minds, there is no contract. Look for another business to offer the service you require. Or bake your own dang cake!

Starrose

I see that emotions are high on this issue . I see both sides but in this case have to side with the baker for the right to refuse service based on a sincerely held religious belief . The distinction here is that it is " sincerely held" to me that means it is clearly stated somewhere in that religion and the belief can be proven to be valid . I have read some of the quotes from the bibles of the Christian faith that those opposed to gay marriage state are of concern to them and I do think there are phrases that can be interpreted as being against of gay marriage. I do not personally interpret them that way but I do see how others can sincerely come to that conclusion.

I know it is hurtful to a gay couple to be turned away for that reason, but in view of
those biblical words when the baker says it is against her religion I believe her because things in the bible do back her up. I also think this should not have been resolved in a lawsuit . It is unfortunate .

Brown

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mrdwm1

While I feel the use of the legal system is wrong here, perhaps it's time for all of us, especially those who consider themselves, "people of faith", to show a little consideration for those who have fallen for the new morality of today's society.

Ma Shine

Hate in the name of Christ, that is truly taking the Lord's name in vain.

linr455

what a load of biased, (hate-filled) issue! you are all silent when an "artist" portrays Jesus as a raving homosexual, or any of the numerous insanely disrespectful renditions that 'must be allowed' for public venue, because of the first amendment rights...but don't let it be turned around huh? what a complete hypocrisy is shown here.

The only thing worse than her overpriced cakes are her 14th century superstition beliefs

L Brand

If a business owner has "values" that restrict their ability to provide all services to all customers, then they need to post that in the window of the establishment. As consumers, we have the right to know so we can choose to avoid said businesses if we wish. And gay couples have the right to avoid the embarrassment of being denied service. If this bakery truly believes in this position, they should be PROUD to let the entire world know. But something tells me they will choose to keep quiet and hope very few people become aware of their "values" so it won't impact their business negatively. People have posted that gay people should go where they are welcome - then businesses that don't welcome gay patronage should clearly post it!

Pitbullll

Indeed. It's refreshing to see a judge put rationality and reason back into this situation. The facts remain that -
- Cathy Miller is a lovely woman, a terrific baker and a devoted Christian
- Not all Christians share Cathy Miller's beliefs regarding same sex marriage
- Cathy Miller sells any of her pre-baked goods to anyone and everyone
- She only refuses to provide wedding cakes for same sex weddings because she feels it violates her personal practice of her Christian faith as protected under the 1st Amendment
- In this circumstance, she refers people to another local bakery which does bake cakes for same sex weddings
- This whole matter is patently absurd to any reasonable, rational person. And a clear demonstration of the intolerant, irrational and vindictive nature of liberalism.
- The plaintiffs in this case could have respected Cathy Miller's wishes, got in their car, drove two miles to another bakery and bought their wedding cake. But instead they chose to claim victimhood, feign outrage and set out to destroy Cathy Miller.
- These people didn't want a cake. They wanted revenge.

Bravo, Cathy Miller. Justice and reason have prevailed.

Buie

This Republican Judge contorts the written law in a way that makes new law. If this ruling is allowed to stand, then a restaurant could refuse service to gays, blacks, mixed-race couples, Jews, because the chef is an artist and cooking a gourmet Valentines dinner for a gay couple would violate his right to free speech. This means a baker could legally refuse to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah The baker could say it is because he opposes circumcision. But then the Supreme court has already ruled that a corporation is a person, so this will not be a stretch for them. With this ruling, Judge Lampe seeks to codify homophobia, discrimination, and hate.

Stephen

The argument that being required to bake a custom cake for a couple whose lifestyle the baker disagrees with is “forced speech” is a stretch. This is not unlike that of a book publisher, graphic artist, say a sign maker, a brochure printer or, for that matter, any other profession or trade that involves ending up with some kind of product that, in some way, may be considered a message.

It’s not. The message is that of the customer who is paying the bill and, in no way should be considered the message or endorsement of the provider. We can be confident that most book publishers, particularly those who specialize in so called “vanity publications” where the author pays the publisher to design and print the book don’t stop to read it and decide if they agree with it or not. It’s not their message. It’s the message of the customer.

And so it should be with pastry. Can you imagine anyone attending a ceremony and viewing the custom pastry that clearly indicates the values of the celebrants stopping to consider who baked the item and therefore conclude it somehow reflects the message of the baker? I don’t think so. The baker like the providers of all other services involved are producing the message of the customer, not that of the provider.

JoeNCA

So a baker who has a religious opposition to interracial marriage can refuse a wedding cake for an interracial couple as well? Or is it just the gays who deserve special condemnation?

lword

If you're so proud of your beliefs then have the guts to post on your door that you will discriminate against me so I don't have to waste my time going into your store. Oh, but you probably won't do that because of all the other business you'll lose because of your discrimination which is hypocritical.

GaryJohns

The "offended" couple and the protesters are welcome to buy all the cakes they want at MANY bakeries in town that cater to LGBTQWTF groups... but it was my observation that many of them had already been eating way too much cake well before this case came to court....

JoeNCA

Just like black people are welcome to sit at any restaurant that caters to black folks, right?

And if eating too much cake was a reason for discrimination, I know a lot of Christians who are well worthy of refusing service!

Buie

This couple was not offended so much as violated by having their constitutional rights infringed upon. What you and Arnold's Republican homophobic judge has ruled is that as long as I consider myself an artist at whatever product or service I provide to the public, I am free to discriminate at will. What that means Mr. GaryJohns, is the chef down at the Denny's where you have breakfast can now refuse to serve you because his Blueberry Walnut Pancakes are artistic expression of his free speech. It also means that anyone, gay or straight, can now refuse to provide a service or sell a product to Judge Lampe because to do so do so would be a violation of their freedom of speech, because to serve him would be a statement of concurrence. Using Lampe's logic, he would rule Rosa Parks would have to sit in the back of the bus. Lampe's ruling also means this newspaper can refuse service to deeply closeted self-loathing homosexuals, because as a corporation, they are also considered a person since the Hobby Lobby ruling. Have a blessed day Mr. GaryJohns.

Shindo

See what i dont like and understand is the baker suggested another baker to make the cake. Honestly people these days just want to sue over the smallest detail. Its pathiec i think.

david0296

Miller said. “I am incapable of doing something that would hurt my Lord and Savior.”
————
She actually believes that her God will have his feelings hurt if she bakes a cake for a same-sex couple? Seriously? I’m fairly certain that a supernatural being that created the entire universe has bigger things to worry about than whether or not a baker makes a cake.
————
No baker may place their wares in a public display case, open their shop, and then refuse to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification,” Lampe wrote.
————
Sample wedding cakes are always shown off in a public display case. That’s how customers know that the bakery makes them, and what they look
like.

heyoka

"Miller said. “I am incapable of doing something that would hurt my Lord and Savior.”"

Since he already has done so, repeatedly.......and since Miller has no idea of who his lord and saviour is.....he's going to have some explaining to do...

Bodysnatcher

Very happy how the judge ruled in this case. Word to you same sex couples, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

JoeNCA

Or black couples, or interracial couples, or Jewish couples, or....

All the supremacists are happy with this ruling.

SardonicWisdom

You know, the logic on this was easy to follow. So as a restaurant cook, I can refuse to make my art for anyone who offends my first amendment sensibilities. SWEET!!

Jake g

Used to be 'No Jews or dogs allowed' (a sign that was not uncommon in the South into the 50s). Or 'No Irish need apply. Or 'No coloreds served'. No difference.

Inconvenient Truth

It is refreshing to see a thoughtful judge interpret the Constitution rather than try to re-write it.
The question is quite simple: Does an expressly-enumerated Constitutional right win out over a recently cobbled-together judge-made rule.
All Americans have the right to follow their own beliefs, but not the right to force everyone else to accept them.
Well done, Judge Lampe!

heyoka

The judge didn't agree the baker could deny service. He just agreed the injunction couldn't force them to sell to everyone.

We won't even get into the fact that the couple already rejects the Bible to start with.

JoeNCA

No one is forcing anyone to accept anyone. They're just asking them to do their jobs, just like any black person, any Jewish person, any interracial couple, anyone else.

You don't have to like it. You just don't have a religious right to discriminate.

ichabodmarker

Should we sue Jewish and Muslim delis for not selling pork products? I'm just asking them to do their jobs.

The Todd

There is a huge difference between refusing to serve a group of people and not stocking a certain item. Stop trying to be obtuse.

Ma Shine

You should if they choose to sell to only some customers but not all who walk in. If this wretched woman didn't sell cakes at all, then it would be unreasonable to expect her to bake a cake. But she has a business where she chooses her customers. She discriminates against black people and Hispanics, too.

L Brand

Well, guess what? I'm a paramedic. Hope you and this judge never need life-saving help because it will be against my deeply held beliefs to provide aid to bigots. And with this ruling, since my personal efforts at life saving are part of my personal expression, you're dead. Smdh.

MaynardG

Finally, The voice of reason.

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