BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The legal saga of a local baker who in 2017 refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple isn’t over yet.
On Friday, the state Civil Rights Department filed a brief asking the 5th District Court of Appeal to overturn a Kern judge’s ruling in favor of Tastries owner Cathy Miller.
Following a trial last year, Judge Eric Bradshaw found Miller’s “pure and expressive speech is entitled to protection under the First Amendment” and state attorneys failed to prove Miller intentionally discriminated against same-sex couple Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio because of their sexual orientation.
In a news release, the Civil Rights Department says it’s urging the 5th District to reverse Bradshaw’s “erroneous decision.”
“In California, we refuse to stand down and let others roll back the clock on fundamental civil rights protection,” said Civil Rights Department director Mary Wheat. “Every couple deserves to celebrate and mark their special occasions without fear of discrimination. Refusal to provide equal access to goods and services is against the law.”
A hearing on the brief has not been scheduled.
At trial, state attorneys argued Miller violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act, which says all people, regardless of sexual orientation, must be given equal services at all businesses. Providing a referral to another business, as Miller did, doesn’t suffice, attorneys said.
Miller’s lawyers said forcing her to make wedding cakes for same-sex couples would violate her religious beliefs that marriage should only occur between a man and a woman. They also argued the creation of a wedding cake is a form of artistic expression and the state cannot force a person to create a piece of art against their will.
In his ruling, Bradshaw said, “The evidence affirmatively showed that Miller’s only intent, her only motivation, was fidelity to her sincere Christian beliefs.”