California’s Civil Rights agency and Attorney General Rob Bonta are appealing a Kern County Superior Court ruling that allowed a Bakersfield bakery owner to turn away a lesbian couple from buying wedding cake on the basis that it was inconsistent with her religious beliefs.
The backstory: The litigation dates back to 2017 when Miller refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple on the basis of her Christian beliefs.
- The California Department of Civil Rights stepped in and sued Miller for discrimination.
- Initially the California Department of Civil Rights was shut down by a Kern County judge, but the Fifth District Court of Appeal vacated the decision, putting it in front of Kern County Superior Court Judge Eric Bradshaw.
- Last year, Bradshaw ruled in favor of Miller, saying the government could not prove that she intentionally discriminated against the lesbian couple.
- In March, Bradshaw ruled that the attorneys for Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller are owed $3.62 million in fees from California taxpayers.
Driving the news: Making good on a vow from March, State of California lawyers announced an appeal on the ruling, claiming that Bradshaw ignored evidence of intentional discrimination and incorrectly ruled that the cake was protected under the First Amendment.
- This is the second time the state has appealed the ruling after losing in Kern.
- The state argues that the Unruh Civil Rights Act requires businesses to provide equal access to customers without discrimination based on protected characteristics.
- Miller argues that she had a pre-existing agreement with another bakery to provide service to customers Tastries could not serve due to its policies on same-sex marriage.
- The state contends that referring business to another party is a failure to provide equal service.
- Miller’s lawyer believes that the appeal will be rejected based on the judge’s thorough ruling, and the state is also appealing a ruling that it cover Miller’s legal fees of $3.62 million.