BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller is entitled to her beliefs, an attorney said, but she can’t force them on her customers by refusing to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

Miller violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act when she refused service to a Bakersfield couple on the basis of their sexual orientation, Gregory Mann said during his opening statement Monday as trial began in the long-gestating case. The act says in part that all people in the state — regardless of sexual orientation — are entitled to equal service in all businesses.

The suit, brought by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, is not an attack on Miller’s religious beliefs, Mann said.

Miller describes herself as a devout Christian.

“We do not question that, your honor, but the law does not allow her to impose her religious beliefs on her customers, or her employees, for that matter,” Mann said.

Miller attorney Charles LiMandri said the bakery owner has no problem employing gay people or serving gay customers. This case is solely about the baking of a wedding cake, he said.

In his opening statement, he displayed multiple photos of the bakery and its policies, which state that “designs not violate fundamental Christian principles; wedding cakes must not contradict God’s sacrament of marriage between a man and a woman.”

That policy was not implemented to explicitly deny service to gay couples, LiMandri said. Miller also would refuse wedding cakes to those in polyamorous relationships and other relationships that go against her faith. She refused a man who wanted a cake to celebrate his divorce, the attorney said.

The creation of a wedding cake is artistic expression, LiMandri said, displaying photos of intricately-designed multi-tier cakes. He said the state cannot force a person to create a piece of art against their will.

“Bottom line is, making a wedding cake, your honor, is about the message, not the person,” LiMandri said.

The case will be decided by Judge Eric Bradshaw.

DFEH is seeking an order that Miller comply with the Unruh Act. One option is Miller not provide wedding cakes for anyone. Her attorneys say the business would go under due to the percentage of revenue she gets from wedding orders.

Another option would be to have Miller hand off orders for gay couples to another employee.

The case has its origins in August 2017, when same-sex couple Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio visited Tastries. They met with an employee, selected a cake and booked a tasting.

A week later, they arrived with family and were told by Miller that she would refer them to another bakery because she did not condone same-sex marriage. The couple filed a complaint with the DFEH.

In 2018, Judge David Lampe issued a ruling in favor of the bakery, finding Miller’s refusal to design and create the cake was protected by the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

An appellate court overturned that decision and DFEH filed a second suit.