In their zeal to prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, some Democrat-led states, such as California, have gone to the opposite extreme and actively engage in state-sponsored discrimination against individuals and groups with sincerely held religious beliefs.
That ironic reality was addressed and corrected when a California judge ruled in favor of a Christian baker facing punishment from the state for declining to create a custom wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony, Fox News reported.
The court ruled that the state had violated the First Amendment rights of the baker by attempting to compel speech from her that was contradictory to her sincerely held religious beliefs with regard to marriage.
Anti-discrimination laws vs. religious beliefs
In 2017, a lesbian couple attempted to order a custom wedding cake from cake design artist Cathy Miller at her place of business, Tastries, in Bakersfield, California, but their order was declined by Miller, a devout Christian, as it would violate her religious beliefs and her company’s design standards, and the couple was referred to another nearby bakery that would fulfill the custom order for a same-sex marriage.
That wasn’t enough of an accommodation for the couple, who filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, which proceeded to file lawsuits and seek enforcement action against Miller under the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act of 1959, which prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers based on race, ethnicity, or religion.
Rather ironically, attorneys from the Thomas More Society, which represented Miller, pointed out that the state was actually using the anti-discrimination law to discriminate against the Christian baker, and further noted that the state’s attorneys even questioned the sincerity of Miller’s beliefs.
The state violated the rights of a baker
In a 25-page ruling issued last week, California Superior Court Judge Eric Bradshaw laid out the facts of the dispute and sided in favor of Miller.
The judge determined that Miller’s referral of the couple to a comparable bakery to fulfill the order she opposed constituted an offer of “full and equal service” under the state law.
Bradshaw further asserted that the state had violated Miller’s First Amendment-protected right to free speech by attempting to compel her to create a cake and participate in a ceremony that she objected to on religious grounds.
A “certain irony” in the details of the case
“We applaud the court for this decision,” Charles LiMandri, a Special Counsel for the Thomas More Society, said 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.”
Paul Jonna, another Special Counsel for the firm, noted that “There’s a certain irony” in this particular case, given that “a law intended to protect individuals from religious discrimination was used to discriminate against Cathy for her religious beliefs.”
“The state was actually questioning the sincerity of Cathy’s faith,” Jonna added. “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.”