Kathy Miller owns and operates Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, California, which makes custom baked goods for weddings and other events. In 2017, a same-sex couple filed a complaint with the State that Cathy Miller refused to sell them a cake for their wedding celebration. The government sought a court order to force Miller to create custom wedding cakes for everyone or nobody at all. In March 2017, Judge David Lampe denied the State's request, ruling that the First Amendment protects Miller’s right to live and work according to her sincerely held religious beliefs.His statement:
The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell a cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids,” Judge Lampe’s ruling reads. “For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech.
Despite the loss, the government filed a second lawsuit against Miller, seeking crippling fines and punitive damages.
In response, The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, representing Kathy Miller, filed a brief making the same First Amendment argument but also asserting that the same-sex couple “fraudulently” presented themselves as customers to provoke a lawsuit and, therefore, were “unlawful trespassers.”
As a practicing Christian and law-abiding business owner, Cathy welcomingly serves all customers. Cathy has never and will never discriminate against LGBT persons, yet California bureaucrats are determined to humiliate Cathy and shutter her bakery. Their relentless hostility, which includes this merit-less lawsuit, is motivated solely by their anti-religious animus. No American should be persecuted for disagreeing with the government. The government must allow artists like Cathy to make their own decisions about which messages they will promote. Cathy is happy to serve all people at her bakery, but she will not be forced to create messages that violate her Christian faith.
In August, 2017, Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, a married same-sex couple, asked Miller to bake a custom cake for their wedding. Miller declined on the basis that such request, where her cake would express messages about marriage, would conflict with her Christian faith. The lesbian couple dutifully filed a discrimination complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the agency that enforces the State’s anti-discrimination law. All the couple had to do was go to the Muslim bakery shop....oh wait...never mind. The DFEH reluctantly sued Miller on behalf of the "oppressed" lesbian activists, seeking a court order that would force Cathy to create custom cakes. In February 2018, state court judge David Lampe ruled in Miller’s favor, holding that her beliefs are protected by the First Amendment. Despite losing in court, the DFEH sued Miller again in October 2018.
California’s lawyers are rejecting their earlier loss and continue to harass Cathy Miller in order to punish her for skating through unscathed. Cathy serves all customers. She is happy to sell anybody a ready made cake. She simply refuses to create a custom cake with messaging on it that express that violate her Christian faith. The Califonia government is hell-bent on destroying her—something the U.S. Supreme Court has forbidden to do in the Masterpiece Cakeshop ruling. Neither Cathy Miller nor any other business owner should be targeted by the government for living and working according to their religious beliefs.
Now that the answer from Kathy lawyers has been filed, the case will move forward toward trial in June.
Pray for Kathy.