- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Three words that rarely go together — “sanity” and “California court” — and yet a judge in the Golden State just ruled in favor of a Christian cake baker who didn’t want to put her creative talents to work for a marrying same-sex couple.

Key word: creative.

“A wedding cake is not just a cake in a Free Speech analysis,” wrote Superior Court Judge David Lampe, in a decision noted by The Washington Post. “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. There could not be a greater form of expressive conduct.”

Exactly.

Baking a cake may be an automated process in some instances — in some mass-producing grocery instances where dozens of similar cakes are baked and displayed and sold on a daily basis. These are the prepackaged variety.



But a wedding cake?

That’s something specific to the couple. That’s something that needs to be ordered and designed and specialized to the two who are marrying.

And Christians shouldn’t have to use their creativity to further an act that violates their religious beliefs.

This California case, involving a baker in — get this — Bakersfield, started over a complaint that Eileen and Mireya Rodriquez-Del Rio made to the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing in October 2017, after Tastries bakery refused to sell them a wedding cake. They said they didn’t want words on the cake — only the cake.

Still, owner Cathy Miller said she could not because she opposes gay marriage on religious beliefs, but that she would contact another bakery on their behalf that would serve them. That wasn’t good enough; both the couple and the state agency found Miller in violation of anti-discrimination laws.

The state actually sought a legal order to compel Miller to bake the cake.

But Lampe denied the order, comparing the bakery to a tire shop, saying the tire shop couldn’t refuse to provide the couple services or products because “there is nothing sacred or expressive about a tire.” And, he went on, if the couple had simply chosen a cake out of a display case — like the kind sold in grocery stores, say — then the bakery owners wouldn’t legally be able to deny.

“The difference here is that the cake in question is not yet baked,” the judge ruled. “The State asks this court to compel Miller to use her talents to design and 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.”

That’s it, in a nutshell.

The boundary is creative expression.

When it comes to putting one’s God-given creative talents to use, then the individual’s freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of speech take precedence — and rightly so — over the special interest desires of another. But wait for it, wait for it, the win may be short-lived. As expected, there is an appeal.

Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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