Same same-sex cake issue; different day. You may remember the now infamous story of gay couple Charlie Craig and David Mullins who attempted to order a cake from Masterpiece Cakeshop in the Denver suburbs. When baker Jack Phillips refused, Craig and Mullins got the justice system involved, and now the case is headed to the Supreme Court to allegedly be decided some time this year. But while we await that ruling, we have another free speech vs. discrimination ruling to consider—one that, yet again, deals with a same-sex couple's wedding cake.
In Bakersfield (swear we didn't make up that name), California, Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio visited Tastries Bakery back in August. The company's owner, Cathy Miller, told them she wouldn't be able to make them a wedding cake, stating that, "It's not that we don't like people of certain groups of people. There is [sic] just certain things that violate my conscience."
In response, California’s Department of Fair Housing sought an injunction that would either force Miller to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples, or demand she stop selling wedding cakes entirely.
Then yesterday, Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled that Miller can continue refusing to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it violates her Christian beliefs, but tacked on a nuanced clarification: If a same-sex couple is attempting to purchase a cake that's already been made and is on display in a store window, the cake shop owner must comply.
According to CBS, Lampe wanted to make clear that freedom of religion "does not give businesses a right to refuse service to groups protected by the Unruh Civil Rights Act in other circumstances."
Lampe wrote, “The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked. [...] A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples. 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."
Still, he agreed that Miller being asked to make a new cake for an event, was in itself an act of artistic expression. "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," he wrote. Therefore, her right to free speech and free expression of religion means she can't be forced to create something she doesn't agree with, and doesn't infringe upon the state anti-discrimination law.
The lawyer representing Rodriguez-Del Rio responded to the ruling by telling 23 ABC, she was "disappointed, by not surprised" and "our fight against bigotry and discrimination is only beginning."
The couple has requested another hearing, which is tentatively set for June.