BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Five years after refusing to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller testified her faith is founded on God’s word and she can’t be a part of any action violating her belief that marriage should only occur between a man and a woman.
Referencing Genesis, Leviticus and other books of the Bible, Miller said Thursday she must stay true to her faith, and she only provides baked goods which are uplifting and joyful in design. Her standards stipulate no gory or scary items, nothing drug-related and only alcohol if it’s wine or champagne, no hard liquor.
And no wedding cakes for non-heterosexual couples. Providing a cake would indicate she approves of the celebration, she said.
“I don’t discriminate, I just follow my conscience and what the Bible says,” Miller told the court. She’ll sell other products to gay couples, but not wedding cakes.
She became emotional when asked during cross-examination about her understanding of same-sex marriage. Bradshaw paused proceedings to giver her time to compose herself.
Her testimony will resume Friday morning, the fifth day of trial.
Miller is being sued by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for violating the Unruh Act, which states all people, regardless of sexual orientation, must be given equal service at all businesses. If Bradshaw finds in the department’s favor, Miller would have to either bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples, delegate that job to another employee or stop baking wedding cakes altogether.
In 2017, Miller denied Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez Del-Rio a wedding cake and referred them to another baker. They have testified they were hurt and felt discriminated against. They posted about their experience on social media and contacted DFEH.
The following year, 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.
Eileen Rodriguez Del-Rio has testified she believes, with enough practice, she could make the cakes Tastries supplies.
Miller’s attorneys have argued the creation of a wedding cake is artistic expression. In explaining the skill involved in making her cakes, Miller narrated a video played in court showing a Tastries employee frosting and stacking a wedding cake.
“It’s just like an artist with a canvas, but our canvas is cake,” she said.
Miller said she doesn’t hate homosexuals. She has gay friends and has employed homosexuals.
Her cakes have been denied to people other than gay couples.
One man requested a cake to present to his wife, who was under the impression they were going to renew their wedding vows. The man told Miller he planned to give her the cake in front of a number of guests and ask for a divorce.
Miller said she refused.
She was hurt when she discovered other employees went behind her back and sold wedding cakes to same-sex couples, Miller said. She didn’t learn about that until after the incident with the Rodriguez Del-Rios. Those employees have since left and her current employees agree with her policies, she told the court.
New standard operating procedures have been implemented. For every wedding cake order, Miller said, staff first get the name of the bride and groom. If it’s a gay couple, she is immediately told.
The Rodriguez Del-Rios weren’t told of Miller’s beliefs until their second visit to the bakery, when they arrived for a cake testing.
Under cross-examination by DFEH attorney Gregory Mann, Miller became tearful as she attempted to answer questions regarding gay marriage. She later agreed her understanding of “fundamental Christian principles” could be interpreted differently by others.
She said she won’t sell anniversary, engagement or bachelor party cakes to gay couples “because that’s part of the marriage.”
Mann pointed out she doesn’t ask engaged couples if they’re atheist or living together, and she acknowledged an atheist marrying a Christian and couples living together outside marriage go against her religious beliefs. Miller said asking couples if they live together would be discriminatory.
If her beliefs conflict with the law, Miller said she’ll answer to the Lord first, the law second.