California judge: Baker can refuse to serve same-sex couples

Demonstrators hold signs during protests outside the U.S. Supreme Court on December 5, 2017. On Tuesday, a California judge ruled in a similar case, allowing a baker to continue to refuse to bake for same-sex weddings. File Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI

Feb. 7 (UPI) — A California court has ruled that a baker can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same sex couples until the outcome is determined at trial.

The ruling Monday by Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe states that Cathy Miller, owner of Cathy’s Creations, Inc., does not have to bake the cakes, due to her religious beliefs.

“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 said in the ruling. “No public commentator in the marketplace of ideas may be forced by law to publish any opinion with which he disagrees in the name of equal access.”

The judge said the baker cannot be forced to serve same-sex couples the same way a state cannot force someone to stand for the National Anthem.

The case, which has drawn national attention, began in August when Miller refused to make a cake for Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio. The couple filed a complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, saying Miller violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act — a law that bars public businesses from denying service people based on race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

Lampe said it’s necessary for the court to ensure the public marketplace is free from discrimination, but said Miller’s case does not fall under that provision.

“A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples. There is nothing sacred or expressive about tire,” Lampe said.

“The case goes beyond just selling a cake,” he continued. “The case is about a cake that would need to be created and designed for a celebration of a marital union that Miler’s religion forbids.”

“For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment.”

Miller’s case may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently agreed to hear a similar case in Colorado involving a baker who’s declined to bake for a same-sex wedding, on similar grounds.


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