The California Family Council is helping organize a prayer rally next week for a Kern County Christian Baker, who’s bakery could be closed if she doesn’t start baking wedding cakes for same-sex wedding ceremonies. The State of California is taking Cathy Miller to court demanding she either design wedding cakes promoting messages she disagrees with or to stop creating wedding cakes altogether. This case is similar to the one heard before the Supreme Court last month (Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission), involving a Christian Colorado cake artist who was charged with illegal discrimination for politely declining to design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.
Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery in Bakerfield, will be joined on the steps of the Kern County court house by her pastor Roger Spradlin from Valley Baptist Church, and Jonathan Keller, CEO of the California Family Council, to pray that the judge protects Miller’s constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of religion.
Miller is a cake artist, but first and foremost, she is a devout Christian. Miller’s relationship with Jesus Christ impacts every area of her life, including her work as owner of Tastries Bakery. When two women entered her shop in August 2017 and asked Miller to design a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage, she declined their request and respectfully recommended another local baker who’d be happy to create their cake.
According to Miller’s FCDF legal team, her answer was guided by three fundamental principles:
- All people are created in God’s image;
- God gave Miller her artistic talents to use for His glory, and she cannot use them to express a message or celebrate an event that violates God’s teachings; and
- God designed marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman.
Because of these truths, Miller knew she could not design a custom cake for a same-sex wedding. But she also knew that God loves all people. So Miller told the couple that she would gladly sell them anything else in her store or create a cake for them for another occasion. This is consistent with her policy of declining to create other cakes, such as those with anti-family and suggestive themes. Miller’s decision not to design other cakes had never caused a problem until that day.
Miller’s decision to honor God’s design for marriage and live by her conscience has cost her dearly. The two women filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleging that Miller had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law, the Unruh Act, by supposedly discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Shortly after, the DFEH launched a formal investigation of Miller and last month filed a surprise motion for a temporary restraining order to force her to create custom wedding cakes celebrating same-sex marriages. She now faces the loss of her bakery—wedding cakes make up approximately 40 percent of her business.
Fortunately, the superior court judge denied the government’s request because he had not yet heard Miller’s version of the story and there was no urgency justifying such an emergency order because the same-sex couple wanted a wedding cake last August. The judge also acknowledged that the case could affect Miller’s constitutional rights.The judge then ordered the government to show cause on why the court should issue an injunction against Miller.
On February 2, right after the prayer rally, the judge will hear arguments over whether to grant the government’s punishing request. Her attorney, Charles LiMandri, Chief Counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), said he will be arguing three main points:
- Miller did not discriminate based on sexual orientation and did not violate the Unruh Act. In fact, Miller is willing to serve all people regardless of their sexual orientation. She just cannot promote every message requested of her;
- Miller cannot be forced to celebrate messages or events that violate her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage; and
- Miller’s free speech and conscience rights are protected under the U.S. and California constitutions.
The stakes are high. If Miller is forced to create custom artwork that celebrates activities that conflict with her core convictions, others will be similarly compelled to create various forms of expression that violate their conscience. But the First Amendment ensures that we all are free to live and work by our religious beliefs. Miller is asking that these cherished freedoms be preserved—not only for her but for all Californians.
Supporters are invited to join the “Cathy Miller Prayer Rally” at the Kern County Liberty Bell outside the Kern County Superior Court at 12 p.m. Friday, February 2. Prayers will be offered for Miller and her family, for the attorneys involved in the case, for the superior court judge, and for our nation. FCDF is defending Miller in the courtroom, but the implications extend beyond Bakersfield, California. This case could have lasting repercussions for all Californians.
For more information about the “Cathy Miller Prayer Rally,” call the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund at 858-759-9948.
To learn more about Cathy Miller’s case and how to support her fight for freedom visit: https://www.fcdflegal.org/cases/cathy/