Christian baker continues legal fight years after refusing to bake cake for lesbian wedding

Cathy Miller of Tastries Bakery
Cathy Miller of Tastries Bakery | Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund

The yearslong legal battle surrounding a California baker over her religious objection to making a wedding cake that celebrated a same-sex marriage continues as she faces an appeal challenge from state officials.

Cathy Miller of Cathy's Creations, a Bakersfield-based bakery that does business as Tastries, has been battling litigation after she refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2017.

In a brief filed last week in the case of California Civil Rights Department v. Tastries, Miller asked the Court of Appeal of the State of California, 5th Appellate District, to affirm a lower court decision in her favor.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

According to the brief, Miller's refusal to make the same-sex wedding cake was one of many orders she had refused to fulfill due to moral objections to the message being conveyed.

"For example, Miller will not design cakes that celebrate divorce, display violence, glorify drunkenness or drug use, contain explicit sexual content, or present gory, demonic, or satanic images," read the brief, in part.

"Miller also will not design cakes that demean any person or group for any reason, or that promote racism, or any other message that conflicts with Christian principles."

The brief notes that "Miller believes that marriage is a sacred covenantal union between one man and one woman" and that, after refusing to make the cake, she referred the same-sex couple to another business that was willing to fulfill the order.

The backlash to Miller's decision involved many threatening messages sent through social media and over the phone, many of which included threats of sexual violence, as well as other violent acts.

"As the prosecution continued, so did the attacks. On the eve of the preliminary injunction hearing, Miller's car, which had a Tastries logo, was broken into and her laptop stolen," claimed the brief.

"That night, one of Miller's employees was assaulted behind the bakery by a man who referred to the Department's prosecution during the attack. … Although reported to the police, none of these crimes were ever prosecuted. Miller disclosed these incidents to the Department as early as 2018 … but at no point has the Department responded to these instances of threatened and actual violence."

Miller is represented in part by Becket Law, a legal group specializing in religious freedom cases and has successfully argued litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Targeting a family-run bakery because of the owner's religious beliefs is meanspirited, illegal, and deserves no place in our society," said Adèle Keim, senior counsel at Becket, in an emailed statement.

"California officials should have never started this campaign against Cathy and her bakery. California should let Cathy bake in peace."

The litigation against Miller began in 2017, shortly after she declined to make the gay wedding cake, with state officials arguing that she violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The couple filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which attempted to get a restraining order against Miller over her actions.

In 2018, California Superior Court Judge David Lampe of Kern County ruled in favor of Miller, rejecting a request for a preliminary injunction against the baker.

"The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered," wrote Lampe.

"Furthermore, here the State minimizes the fact that Miller has provided for an alternative means for potential customers to receive the product they desire through the services of another talented baker who does not share Miller's belief."

Last October, Lampe issued a ruling in favor of Miller, arguing that the baker's actions did not violate state civil rights law and were protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Shortly after the October ruling was released, the state Civil Rights Department filed an appeal, with CRD Acting Director Mary Wheat saying in a statement that "we refuse to stand down and let others roll back the clock on fundamental civil rights protections."

"Every couple deserves to celebrate and mark their special occasions without fear of discrimination," stated Wheat.

"Refusal to provide equal access to goods and services is against the law. I encourage all Californians who believe their civil rights have been violated to reach out to our office and work with us in fighting for your rights."

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles