Today, Charles LiMandri, Chief Counsel of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), is arguing in Kern County Superior Court in opposition to the state government’s request for an injunction to force Cathy Miller, owner of Tastries Bakery, to design custom wedding cakes that promote messages inconsistent with her faith and conscience. If the judge grants the injunction, Cathy faces the possibility of losing her wedding cake business. A prayer rally for Cathy has been organized by the California Family Council to take place at noon before the hearing outside the courthouse.
Daniel Piedra, FCDF’s Executive Director, said:
Cathy is being punished because she is declining to use her artistic abilities to express messages that conflict with her faith and conscience. ‘Tolerance’ is a two-way street, not a zero-sum game. Under the First Amendment, state officials do not have the power to destroy Cathy merely because she lives and works according to her sincerely held beliefs.
Last August, two women entered Cathy’s bakery and asked her to design a wedding cake for their same-sex marriage. Because of her religious conviction that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, Cathy told the couple that designing a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage was something she could not do.
The couple filed a complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), alleging that Cathy discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. The DFEH launched a formal investigation of Cathy and last month filed in state court a surprise motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to force Cathy to create custom wedding cakes celebrating same-sex marriages.
The superior court judge denied the government’s request because he had not yet heard Cathy’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 Cathy’s constitutional rights. The judge then ordered the government to show cause on why the court should issue an injunction against Cathy.
This case is monumental. When the government has the power to punish Cathy just because it disagrees with how she exercises her artistic freedom, everyone’s freedom is at risk.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help fund Cathy’s legal defense, with the goal of raising $100,000.