As the Supreme Court considers a monumental religious freedom versus gay rights case involving a Colorado bakery, a Superior Court judge in California recently dealt a huge blow to the state government trying to force a local bakery to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples.
Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe denied the state of California a temporary restraining order against Tastries Bakery, whose owner refused to bake cakes for certain occasions that violated her sincerely-held religious beliefs, according to The Bakersfield Californian.
Lampe issued the ruling on Dec. 14, saying that he didn’t have enough information to make the call and scheduled the case for a hearing on Feb. 2.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing initiated the case by petitioning the court to issue the restraining order against Tastries and its owner, Cathy Miller, which, if successful, would force her to either provide wedding cakes for same-sex weddings, or not make them for anyone.
The bakery initially came under fire in August after Miller reportedly refused to make a wedding cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, a gay couple.
Miller explained that her decision wasn’t because she didn’t like homosexual people, but because supporting their union would violate her conscious, according to KERO.
In fact, she has refused to make other types of cakes before, such as those depicting marijuana, alcohol and divorce.
She even went so far as to refer the homosexual couple to a competing bakery who she knew would be willing to bake the cake.
The state, nevertheless, went after Miller and her small business, forcing her into a potentially tough position — do something that violates her religious beliefs or give up her livelihood.
Miller, who was being defended by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, was required to respond to the state’s complaint with detailed personal and employment information.
Judge Lampe said he wanted to see the answers to those questions before ruling on the restraining order.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Colorado bakery owner Jack Phillips who was sued by a gay couple after they were denied Phillips’ wedding cake services.
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Similar to California, Colorado has a law protecting homosexuals from discrimination by business establishments, such as restaurants. Phillips and Miller have essentially the same argument — the freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment trump those laws.
A ruling on the issue from the nations highest court is expected by mid-2018.
Charles LiMandri, president and chief counsel of the firm representing Miller, compared the two cases, explaining how important the issue has become.
“It’s no coincidence that the DFEH’s new attack on Cathy comes as the Supreme Court weighs the similar case of cake artist Jack Phillips in Colorado,” LiMandri said in a statement. “The assault on religious liberty and the freedom of conscience is simply astounding. But neither Cathy nor we are backing down—the freedom of all Americans is at stake.”
It certainly is.
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