Discrimination Case Reopened Against Christian Bakery Owner

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CN) – A bakery owner who refused to bake a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple is headed back to court after a judge allowed the state Wednesday to reopen its investigation against her.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a second lawsuit against Tastries and its owner, Cathy Miller, claiming the bakery denied full and equal service to Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio because of their sexual orientation.

Though Miller was initially willing to serve them, the couple says, she referred them to another bakery after learning they were a same-sex couple because she “does not condone same-sex marriage,” the 16-page complaint states.

Had they been an opposite-sex couple, they would have received the cake they wanted without issue, the couple claims.

In addition to other sweet treats, Tastries offers premade cakes, preordered cakes, and custom cakes. Wedding cakes, which comprise about 25-30 percent of the bakery’s business, fall under the custom designation “even when nothing about their design or ingredients is original or unique. Tastries considers wedding cakes ‘custom’ even when they are recreated from a pre-existing cake, based on a copycat design, or a store-bought cake mix is amongst the ingredients.”

Miller enforces a strict policy of denying such custom wedding cakes to same-sex couples, claiming that to do so would conflict with her Christian faith, but says she has no policy against providing same-sex couples with premade cakes from the store’s display case or customizing such a cake with a written message, according to the complaint.

However, the couple says they selected a cake based on a display cake with a simple design and no custom messages and were still denied service.

In Dec. 2017, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed an ex-parte motion for a temporary restraining order against Tastries, seeking to require Miller to make wedding cakes for everyone or no one.

Judge David Lampe denied the motion, ruling that Miller cannot be required to engage in expressive speech that violates her conscience.

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing has reopened their investigation under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, alleging new evidence, according to a report by 23 ABC.

Charles LiMandri with the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund who represents Miller, told 23 ABC that his client and her husband “are steadfast in defending their faith and their freedom, and they will not be intimidated.”

Attorneys and media representatives for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing were not immediately available for comment Wednesday afternoon.

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