California Civil Rights Department v. Tastries Bakery

Tastries Bakery, owned by devout Christian Cathy Miller, specializes in designing custom baked goods for various events. Due to her faith, Cathy cannot create products that go against her Christian beliefs, such as marijuana-laced brownies or bachelorette-themed cakes. She also refuses to make cakes celebrating divorce or anything that undermines the institution of marriage, believing in the lifelong union of one man and one woman.

In August 2017, a lesbian couple requested a wedding cake from Tastries Bakery for their same-sex wedding. Cathy declined their request based on her beliefs and offered to connect them with a rival bakery. The couple filed a complaint with California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)—now renamed as the Civil Rights Department of California—alleging discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

As a result, Tastries Bakery and Cathy received hate mail, threats of violence, and numerous accusatory phone calls. The DFEH initiated an administrative investigation and filed a petition with the Superior Court for an order requiring Tastries Bakery to either make wedding cakes for same-sex weddings or cease making wedding cakes altogether. In February 2018, state court judge David Lampe ruled in Cathy's favor, citing First Amendment protections.

Undeterred, the DFEH brought a civil lawsuit against Tastries Bakery and Cathy in October 2018. The case proceeded to trial on July 25, 2022, with the Thomas More Society defending Cathy. The stakes were high, as the bakery would be forced to shut down without the revenue from wedding cake sales. Ultimately, Cathy and Tastries triumphed in court, asserting that true tolerance is a two-way street and that the government should not punish citizens for exercising their artistic freedom.

The First Amendment ensures that individuals are free to live and work according to their religious beliefs, and this case aimed to preserve those cherished freedoms for all Californians.

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