Judge: California baker can refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) — A California bakery owner can continue to refuse to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it violates her Christian beliefs, a judge ruled.

The decision came after a lawyer for Tastries Bakery in Bakersfield argued that owner Cathy Miller’s right to free speech and free expression of religion trumps the argument that she violated a state anti-discrimination law.

Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe agreed but said Monday his ruling was tied closely to the fact that Miller was being asked to make a cake for an event and that the act of creating it was protected artistic expression.

Lampe cautioned 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, the Bakersfield Californian reported.

“A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell tires to same sex couples,:” Lampe wrote. “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.”

Miller said it went against her Christian beliefs to make a cake for a same sex couple. She told the newspaper she was overjoyed by the ruling and respected the distinction Lampe made between the sales of a cake and the creation of one.

“I am very happy to serve everything from my cases to anybody,” she said. “But I cannot be a part of a celebration that goes against my lord and savior.”

An attorney for Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio, who brought the case, was not available for comment.

The decision comes as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule in the high-profile case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

That baker, Jack Phillips, claims his First Amendment claims of artistic freedom were being violated.

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