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.