BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Tastries Bakery employees are given a handbook of owner Cathy Miller’s design standards for cakes: no alcoholic products, nothing violent or demeaning and no sexually explicit images.
Also, and it’s a standard that has led to litigation stretching five years, Miller does not make wedding cakes for gay couples. She says that would violate fundamental Christian principles stating marriage should only occur between a man and a woman.
There were never issues, Tastries manager Rosemary Perez testified Tuesday morning, until other store employees began filling wedding cake orders for gay couples without Miller’s knowledge.
Miller is being sued by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for refusing to a bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. DFEH says Miller violated the Unruh Act — which provides for equal service to all people in all businesses — and is seeking to compel her to either bake wedding cakes for gay couples, have another employee make those cakes, or stop making wedding cakes altogether so there is no discrimination.
Perez, the first witness called to testify, said she feels partly to blame for the situation.
When same-sex couple Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio visited Tastries in August 2017, Perez assisted them in filling out an order for a wedding cake. She suspected they were a gay couple and told another employee, who instructed her to let her handle it and not inform Miller.
She didn’t tell the couple about Tastries’ policies.
“So, regardless of the design, Tastries will not make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, correct?” DFEH attorney Gregory Mann asked.
“Correct,” Perez said.
The couple returned about a week later for a cake tasting, Perez testified, and their interaction with each other left no doubt they were romantically involved. She told Miller.
The Rodriguez-Del Rios were denied the cake, and Miller referred them to Gimme Some Sugar, another bakery. Perez testified the couple was clearly unhappy when they left. They contacted DFEH.
The bakery received a slew of phone calls and online messages leaving negative comments, Perez testified, and received pornographic images through email. She knows of only one social media post by the couple and has no knowledge they encouraged others to criticize the business.
But she feels the couple disrespected her, Miller and others at the bakery for their Christian beliefs by involving DFEH. She said she respects gay couples and has family in same-sex marriages, and they’re able to get along by respecting each other’s viewpoints.
Whenever Miller deals with a same-sex couple, there is never an issue, Perez testified. She said she knew going behind Miller’s back in filling orders prohibited by their design standards would result in an “ugly situation.”
Another witness, Melinda Massey, a former Tastries employee, said Miller creates birthday cakes, graduation cakes and cakes to celebrate other occasions for those in the LGBTQ community. Only wedding cakes are denied.
Asked about the importance of faith to Miller, Massey said, “It’s her life. She loves Jesus.”
The trial resumes at 1:30 p.m.