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A California judge has ruled that a bakery owner can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples if it violates his spiritual beliefs.
The decision – by Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe – came after a lawyer for “Tastries Bakery” in Bakersfield argued that owner Cathy Miller’s freedom of religion – and her free exercise of it – trumps the argument that she broke a state anti-discrimination law.
In the ruling, Judge Lampe said the pivotal issue was that Miller was being asked to make a cake for an event and “making” the cake required artistic expression on her part.
“The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked,” the judge wrote. “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.”
Miller, he added, “provided for an alternative means for potential customers to receive the product they desire through the services of another talent” when she recommended the Rodriguez-Del Rios visit a different bakery.
Lampe warned that freedom of religion doesn’t give businesses a right to simply refuse service to any group protected by the Unruh Civil Rights Act in other circumstances, the Sacramento Bee reports.
“A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples,:” Lampe wrote. “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.”
Miller asserted it went against her Christian beliefs to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. She told the Bakersfield Californian that she was overjoyed by the ruling and respected the distinction the judge drew 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.”
The couple who brought the lawsuit, Mireya and Ellen Rodriguez-Del Rio, wouldn’t comment.
Patricia Ziegler-Lopez, who is representing the Rodriguez-Del Rios, told 23 ABC News in a statement that her clients were “disappointed, but not surprised” by the ruling against the preliminary injunction, and stressed, “There is no lawsuit filed yet.”
“Our fight against bigotry and discrimination is only beginning,” she added.
The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule in the high-profile case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
It’s the exact same situation, it would seem.
That baker, Jack Phillips, claims his First Amendment claims of artistic freedom were being violated.
The decision, expected later this year, is widely expected to be the most important decision for the LGBT community since the 2015 ruling legalizing gay marriage across the country.
What do you think? Sound off below!
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