Judge David Lampe ruled in favor of Cathy Miller, the owner of Tastries Bakery on Feb. 5. The ruling allows Miller to continue denying wedding cakes to same-sex couples until the case returns to court in June.
The case garnered national attention after Cathy Miller refused to make a wedding cake for Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio’s same-sex wedding.
In 2017, the couple filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Following an investigation, the state of California filed a lawsuit on behalf of Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio against Miller. The lawsuit alleged that Miller had violated the Unruh Civil Rights Act- a statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of identity, such as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
Miller is represented by Charles Limandri, the president of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, a conservative organization that provides pro-bono legal assistance to those in legal battles involving freedom of conscience.
Lampe’s ruling focused heavily on whether or not creating a wedding cake is a form of expression and therefore protected as freedom of speech.
“A wedding cake is not just a cake in free speech analysis,” said Lampe. “It is an artistic expression by the person making it that is to be used traditionally as a centerpiece in the celebration of a marriage. There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct.”
“The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked,” said Lampe. “The State is not petitioning the court to order defendants to sell a cake. The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and create a cake she has not yet conceived with the knowledge that her work will be displayed in celebration of a marital union her religion forbids.”
Lampe emphasized that this ruling does not promote or allow discrimination, stating “No vendor may refuse to sell their public goods, or services…based upon their perception of the gender identification of their customer, even upon religious grounds. A retail tire shop may not refuse to sell a tire because the owner does not want to sell because of race, religion, gender, or gender identification.”
Lampe continued to defend Miller, saying that she would sell pre-made products, but that she could not “design or create any custom cake that expresses or celebrates matters that she finds offend her heartfelt religious principles.”
Since Lampe’s ruling is on a motion for a preliminary injunction, it is not final. Miller may only continue to deny cakes to same-sex couples until the full case comes to trial in June.