A California Judge Allows a Baker to Discriminate Against a Lesbian Couple Who Wanted a Wedding Cake

On Monday, a trial court in California’s Central Valley blamed a lesbian couple for the discrimination they experienced when they tried to buy a wedding cake. That twisted reasoning ignores the very real harms that occur when people are denied the freedom to participate in public life.

Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio tried to buy a cake from the bakery Tastries, but the owner Cathy Miller turned them away when they arrived for their scheduled cake tasting on Aug. 26, 2017, based on her religious objections to same-sex marriage. Miller instead referred them to a different bakery, even though Tastries regularly sells wedding cakes to heterosexual couples.

The court found that the Constitution creates a right to discriminate, in part by grossly minimizing the harm that the couple experienced when they were rejected. In ruling for the bakery, Kern County Superior Court Judge David Lampe said:

If anything, the harm to [the bakery owner] is the greater harm, because it carries significant economic consequences. When one feels injured, insulted or angered by the words or expressive conduct of others, the harm is many times self-inflicted.

Blaming Eileen and Mireya for the discrimination they experienced that day at the bakery is outrageous. It’s hard to fault people who experience injury when told they are not good enough to be served because of who they are. But the court didn’t stop there.

According to the judge, “the fact that Rodriguez-Del Rios feel they will suffer indignity from Miller’s choice is not sufficient to deny constitutional protection.” Judge Lampe went on to say that an "interest in preventing dignitary harms . . . is not a compelling basis for infringing free speech.”  That is just not true. Putting aside the bakery’s contention that freedom of speech creates a right to refuse equal service, the Supreme Court has long recognized that preventing harm to personal dignity that occurs with discrimination is one of the core purposes of our anti-discrimination laws.

In a challenge to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of federal public accommodations law to ensure human dignity. Justice Arthur Goldberg, in a concurring opinion, wrote: “Discrimination is not simply dollars and cents, hamburgers and movies; it is the humiliation, frustration, and embarrassment that a person must surely feel when he is told that he is unacceptable as a member of the public.”

And in Roberts v. Jaycees, the Supreme Court recognized that discrimination — in that case, turning women away from membership in an organization — “deprives persons of their individual dignity and denies society the benefits of wide participation in political, economic, and cultural life.”

All of us should have the freedom to walk into a business open to the public and know that we will be served. Fearing that you will be turned away because of who you are changes the way you live your life, in real and damaging ways. It forces you to hide who you are. It takes away one's liberty to live an authentic life.

If upheld on appeal, the recent ruling would create a constitutional right to discriminate. It would mean that LGBTQ people, even those who live in states like California with laws against discrimination, must go back to being fearful of embarrassment and hostility when walking into a business. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering this same question in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case right now. Let's hope the justices will see the bakery’s arguments for what they really are — an impermissible attempt to use a claim of speech and religion rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and potentially others, across the country.

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Anonymous

The couple were nothing but complete bullies! I'm please to see there are still Constitutional Judges who will uphold a person's rights.

dave jones

People who wish to live their lives according to their religious beliefs have as much right to do that as gay people have to live their lives as they wish. In situations where these rights compete, the Courts have to find a way to balance these rights. So why does the LGBTQ community think that their rights should always prevail against other peoples' rights?

rational thought

you are so correct, too bad libs can't figure that out too

Anonymous

Business entities do not have religious rights. No buisness is required to sell a product they do not want to. No one is required to disclose their life history in order to buy a publicly available product. If the only reason a buisness is refusing to sell a product is because they know more about that customers life history that is wrong. It does not matter if that life history facet is religion, race, sexual orientation, or the model of car you drove in high school.

Anonymous

When you own a business you have an obligation to follow the laws that govern your business. If religious people can't handle following laws that govern their businesses, then they should close their businesses and open a church where they can have all the white supremacist bake sales they want to. The woman is a bigot and I hope she goes bankrupt.

rational thought

this is madness, looney liberals!
it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against a baker for her religious belief but not the LGBT's feelings, they were still getting a cake, no one denied them service, it's just this artist didn't want to be FORCED to make art for something she doesn't believe in or want to do! what about her rights??
why is she discriminated against?

this is Maoist china!!

rational thought

this is madness, looney liberals!
it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against a baker for her religious belief but not the LGBT's feelings, they were still getting a cake, no one denied them service, it's just this artist didn't want to be FORCED to make art for something she doesn't believe in or want to do! what about her rights??
why is she discriminated against?

this is Maoist china!!

EZ

A doctor can refuse to see a patient on the basis of "poor rapport", why can't a cake maker refuse to serve a customer on basis of conflicting with her faith?

rational thought

because their are different rules for the LGBT's
the Gay mafia would lose its marbles

Anonymous

A doctor patient relationship is a complicated issue where in: the patient has to trust the doctor has the patients best interest at heart; and the doctor has to trust that the patient will be truthful, honest, ask questions, and speak up about incredibly personal symptoms and issues. Without that trust/rapport the doctor cannot provide an adequate level of service. If a doctor knows that their ability to provide advice on life altering medical decisions is hindered for any reason, as long as it is not an emergency situation and the patient has other options that will meet their needs better, the doctor should recuse themselves in the interest of better patient care.

Ex. If a trans-person has a broken bone, and a doctor doesn’t like trans-people, well being trans doesn’t impact how to reset a bone, so the doctor should be able to provide thhe same level of service to a trans-individual as the doctor would anyone else and set the bone. However, a primary care doctor who doesn’t like trans-people and is unwilling to facilitate transitional surgery should recuse themselves and send the patient to a doctor that will be able to provide the patient with the care they require.

Conversely, no ones cake making ability is hindered because of anything in the recipients life history. One doesn’t loose the ability to measure flour and sugar because someone else did something they don’t agree with. A cake maker can make an absolutely beautiful cake without knowing anything about the individual(s) for whom they are making the cake. The only things a cake maker needs to know is: how many layers, how do you want it decorated (assuming those decorations are within the shops accepted parameters), when/where does it need to be done/delivered, and how are you going to pay.

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