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A court in California ruled in favor of a Christian baker Friday in a years-long case stemming from a lawsuit after she turned down a request to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding in 2017 due to her religious beliefs.
“We applaud the court for this decision,” said Charles LiMandri, Thomas More Society special counsel, in a statement. “The freedom to practice one’s religion is enshrined in the First Amendment, and the United States Supreme Court has long upheld the freedom of artistic expression.”
Fox News adds:
Cathy Miller, a cake designer who owns the popular Tastries bakery in Bakersfield, California, won what her lawyers at the Thomas More Society called “a First Amendment victory” when Judge Eric Bradshaw of the Superior Court of California in Kern County ruled against California’s Department of Fair Housing and Employment, which had brought the lawsuit against her.
Miller was subject to multiple lawsuits after she referred a lesbian couple to another baker when they requested a cake for their wedding. Because of her Christian belief that marriage is between one man and one woman, Miller declined to design a custom cake for their ceremony, believing it would be tantamount to a tacit affirmation.
“Here at Tastries, we love everyone,” Miller said in an interview with KERO in 2017. “My husband and I are Christians, and we know that God created everyone, and He created everyone equal, so it’s not that we don’t like people of certain groups, there are just certain things that violate my conscience.”
After refusing to make the cake, the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment filed a lawsuit against Miller’s business under provisions of the Unruh Civil Rights Act, a broad 1959 state statute that sought to protect consumers from being discriminated against by businesses on the basis of their race, ethnicity, or religion.
Court rules in favour of Christian baker who refused to bake cake for a lesbian couple in 2017 https://t.co/hJNAw3HXCM
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) October 24, 2022
Paul Jonna, another special counsel for the Thomas More Society who was also one of Miller’s attorneys, pointed out that there was “a certain irony” to the case since “a law intended to protect individuals from religious discrimination was used to discriminate against Cathy for her religious beliefs.”
He went on to say that his client’s beliefs regarding marriage are part of what is considered mainstream Christian teachings and that in going after Miller, the state harassed her because of her religion.
The attorney also noted that during questioning under oath, attorneys for the state appeared to question the sincerity of her beliefs by asking if she also adhered to dietary laws of the Old Testament like she does regarding the issues of sexual morality.
“The state was actually questioning the sincerity of Cathy’s faith,” Jonna said. “The fact that they called Miller’s open and sincerely held beliefs into question is almost as disturbing as quibbling over her status as an artist.”
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a high school football coach who was fired for praying on the field after games in another huge First Amendment victory.
When the school district learned that then-coach Joseph Kennedy was praying with the team, they told him that he could pray separately from the students. Kennedy declined to change his practice, was put on paid leave, and then filed a lawsuit.
During oral arguments, the Supreme Court’s conservative justices seemed sympathetic to Kennedy. The Washington Post reported:
Questions from the court’s conservatives indicated they believe the school district has misread the court’s precedents regarding government endorsement of religion and perhaps was hostile to such demonstrations.
Justice Clarence Thomas questioned whether Kennedy would have been disciplined if he had taken a knee during the national anthem to protest racism. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. questioned Katskee, legal director at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, about other political activism.
Suppose “when Coach Kennedy went out to the center of the field … all he did was to wave a Ukrainian flag. Would you have fired him?” Alito asked.
Katskee said the school district could discipline a coach for such actions because it “doesn’t want its event taken over for political speech.”
“Where is the school district rule that says that?” Alito demanded.
“No teacher or coach should lose their job for simply expressing their faith while in public,” Kelly Shackelford, president, and CEO of First Liberty, who is representing the case, said in a statement.