A California court ruled in favor of a Christian baker on Friday after a years-long legal battle after she refused to make a personalized cake for a lesbian wedding in 2017, citing her religious beliefs.
“We commend the court on this decision,” Thomas More Society Special Counsel Charles LiMandri said in a statement. “The freedom to practice one’s religion is enshrined in the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court has long supported freedom of artistic expression.”
Cathy Miller, a cake maker who owns the popular Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, Calif., won what her attorneys at the Thomas More Society called “a First Amendment victory” when California Superior Court Judge Eric Bradshaw in Kern County came out against the Department of California. of Fair Housing and Employment, who filed the lawsuit against her.
Miller faced multiple lawsuits after he referred a lesbian couple to another baker when they asked for a cake for their wedding. Due to her Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, Miller declined to design a custom cake for their ceremony, believing it would amount to a tacit affirmation.
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In a interview with KERO in 2017, Miller said, “Here in Tastries, we love everyone. My husband and I are Christians, and we know that God created everyone, and He created everyone equal, so this It’s not that we don’t like people from certain groups, there are just certain things that violate my conscience.”
The California Department of Fair Housing and Employment later filed a lawsuit against Miller’s company under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a sweeping 1959 state law designed to protect consumers from discrimination by companies on the basis of race, ethnic origin or religion.
Paul Jonna, special counsel for the Thomas More Society who also served as one of Miller’s attorneys, noted in a statement that there was “a certain irony” in his client’s case given “that a law aimed at protecting individuals from religious discrimination was used to discriminate against Cathy for her religious beliefs.”
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Noting that Miller’s beliefs regarding marriage are traditional Christian teachings, Jonna alleged that state attorneys harassed her client.
The Thomas More Company claimed in a press release that during her deposition in February, state attorneys apparently questioned the sincerity of Miller’s faith by asking her if she adhered to the Old Testament dietary laws as she does to the Bible’s teachings on sexual morality.
“The state was questioning the sincerity of Cathy’s faith,” Jonna said. “The fact that they questioned Miller’s open and sincere beliefs is almost as disturbing as quibbling about his status as an artist.”
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During closing arguments before the judge in July, LiMandri said that Miller allegedly provided the couple with a pre-made cake, but that she viewed one made with her personal artistry as an endorsement of gay marriage, which goes against his Christian beliefs.