A California state judge has ruled in favor of a baker, Cathy Miller of Tastries bakery, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The details of the case are almost identical to the Masterpiece Cakeshop currently under consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Judge David Lampe, a Schwarzenegger appointee, defended Miller’s discriminatory actions in ways that defy logic and directly contradict the facts of the case. When Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio went to Miller’s shop for a wedding cake, they “selected a design based on a display cake” — in other words, a cake identical to cakes Miller has made for other couples. But Miller ultimately refused to sell them that cake because of her religious beliefs.
But Lampe justified the discrimination because “the difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked.” He seems to believe that it was her right to not to sell the the Rodriguez-Del Rios a pre-designed cake because of what they will do with it after she sells them it. She was asked, he wrote, to “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 spelled this reasoning out later in the decision. “It is the use that Miller’s design effort will be put to that causes her to object.” It’s not what she designs, but what the couple does with it. How that isn’t discrimination against the couple based on the fact they’re a same-sex couple is unfathomable.
Nevertheless, he directly contradicts this reasoning by making an argument based on artistic expression as well. “A wedding cake is not just a cake in a Free Speech analysis,” Lampe wrote, directly parroting conservative talking points. “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.” By requiring Miller to make the cake, the state is requiring that her artistic expression “be co-opted to promote the message desired by same-sex marital partners.”
Lampe also bent over backward to defend Miller’s discriminatory beliefs:
Miller’s desire to express through her wedding cakes that marriage is a sacramental commitment between a man and a woman that should be celebrated, while she will not express the same sentiment toward same-sex unions, is not trivial, arbitrary, nonsensical, or outrageous. Miller is expressing a belief that is part of the orthodox doctrines of all three world Abrahamic religions, if not also part of the orthodox beliefs of Hinduism and major sects of Buddhism.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), which represents Miller, boasted about the victory in a statement. FDCF president Charles LiMandri, who has also defended ex-gay therapists, falsely insisted that “Cathy gladly serves everyone who walks through her bakery’s doors, including same-sex couples… We are pleased the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy’s freedom of speech.”
While the case has absolutely no bearing on what the Supreme Court might do in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which will be decided sometime in the next month or so, it does offer a glimpse of what it looks like to justify anti-gay discrimination. It also suggests that conservatives will continue to pursue this tactic to chip away at marriage equality however they can.
The state is expected to appeal.