California Judge Sides With Anti-LGBT Baker

Your wedding, as a — hopefully — once-in-a-lifetime event, is a big deal, and the cake is the centerpiece for a reason: It’s a delicious symbol of love and shared community. So people are understandably pretty choosy about where they buy their wedding cakes.

Sadly, as we’ve learned in recent years, some bakeries seem to think it’s okay to be selective about who they serve, denying service to LGBTQ couples.

The Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado has attracted major headlines, but it’s not the only U.S. bakery that’s chosen to make a legal case out of bigotry. In California, Cathy Miller of Tastries Bakery made a value judgment about a prospective customer when she refused to bake a cake because it “goes against my lord and savior.” Judge David Lampe of Kern County ruled on her side in a discrimination case, using the same logic being advanced in Colorado.

Here’s what happened: The couple, who were already married but wanted a celebration cake, approached Miller to commission one. They simply wanted a cake — no writing or decorations referencing their union. That’s an important nuance, for reasons that will become readily apparent. Miller refused, referring them to a different baker, and they filed a civil rights complaint with the state.

The state argued that Miller was discriminating against the couple, and that she couldn’t fall back on a First Amendment defense. Freedom of religion doesn’t protect the right to discriminate, and, moreover, the state was not requiring Miller to distribute a message – just to sell a cake. But Miller insisted that this would violate her religious convictions.

Judge Lampe decided that the cake was a form of “artistic expression,” even though Miller wasn’t being asked to decorate it. And because the couple wanted to commission a cake rather than buy one out of the case, they were “compelling” her to participate in their celebration of marriage.

This, Lampe insists, is different from other settings in which people refuse service — as, he suggested, at a tire shop, where refusing to sell a pre-made, standardized tire to a gay couple would be discriminatory. He asserted that the couple’s request violated Miller’s free speech — akin to, for example, ordering a painter to produce a work making a political statement they did not agree with.

Yes, even in blue states like California, bigots think it’s acceptable to deny service to people on the grounds of their sexual orientation. And with the Trump administration actively supporting Masterpiece Cakeshop, this case should be viewed as a warning sign.

Republicans are threatening far-reaching “religious freedom” laws that deny people health care and other services, so this case will definitely be one to watch.

A cake might seem like a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, but it’s the tip of a very unpleasant iceberg. If a business can argue that it’s okay to refuse to serve a tasty and beautiful dessert to someone because of who he’s marrying, what’s next?

Photo Credit: Susan Solinski/Flickr

66 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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DAVID fleming
Dave f7 months ago

Ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R7 months ago

ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R7 months ago

ty

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Karen H
Karen H7 months ago

If this "Christian" baker is claiming he's following his religion, does he also refuse to sell to mixed race couples? People whose religion is different from his own? Couples buying a cake for a second (or third or fourth) wedding after divorce? If not, he's not following his religion but simply discriminating against one group of people.

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Hannah K
Hannah K8 months ago

thank you

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Ann B
Ann B8 months ago

the was the business owners choice--there are other shops...a big deal made of a small choice----we still have freedom of choice but not sure for how long???

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DAVID f
Dave f8 months ago

Noted

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John B
John B8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Mia G
Past Member 8 months ago

thnaks for sharing

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