Just when conservatives were coming to the conclusion that west coast courts were a judicial tool of liberals, one California court decides to back a baker’s religious freedom. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a California judge has ruled that a Bakersfield owner of a bakery had a free-speech right to turn away a lesbian couple who wanted him to make a cake to celebrate their marriage. Does this mean a ray of religious freedom can influence other judges to follow suit?
Although the history of California justice has been overwhelming, dramatically left of the United States’ Constitution and its religious freedoms’ protections, California Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe made a convincing stand for bakery owner Cathy Miller’s religious constitutional rights. He ruled, “The state asks this court to compel Miller against her will and religion to allow her artistic expression in celebration of marriage to be co-opted to promote the message desired by same-sex marital partners,” Judge Lampe stressed. “The right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment outweighs the state’s interest in ensuring a freely accessible marketplace.
Is this anti-gay discrimination as the gay couple is alleging?
Based upon Charles LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, understanding of the religious rights of Miller, the answer is a solid no. LiMandri said, “Cathy would never discriminate against anyone who walks through her bakery’s doors,” reported the San Francisco Chronicle. He added, “She will gladly serve anyone, including same-sex couples.
Ever since the Supreme Court ruled incorrectly in its June 2015 decision to recognize gay marriage, a number of same-sex couples have been searching for a way to attack the legitimacy of a Christian baker’s constitutional freedom of speech right. Even though Miller stood by her religious freedom right and refused to make a cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-DelRio, in August 2017, she did refer them to another nearby bakery.
Instead, the gay couple decided to take their complaint about nonservice to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and alleged discrimination. The state agency tried to force Miller to forcefully comply to the will of the state. Judge David Lampe disagreed with the gay couple and the state agency.
Judge Lampe zeroed in on the clear distinction that liberals who support the gay couple and other couples across the nation are seeking to force Christian bakers to use their artistic skills against their Christian beliefs. Judge Lampe ruled that Miller did not refuse to sell a cake that was already made to a same-sex couple. That, the judge felt, may have been discrimination. He pointed out that, “However, forcing her to bake a new cake would have been an impermissible form of coercion.”
This legal point is crucial, because in December the U.S. Supreme court heard a similar case involving a Christian Colorado baker who also refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The state of Colorado had passed an anti-discrimination law based upon sexual orientation. The high court is expected to render a ruling by the end of June which could determine if a Christian baker can be forced to use their creative talent against their will or if their right of refusal is a constitutionally protected act of free speech.
Image: Excerpted from: CC0 creative Commons; https://pixabay.com/en/wedding-cake-cupcake-reception-2629448/