A California court has set a trial date in a case brought by two lesbians against a cake baker whose claims the women were searching for a lawsuit, not a wedding cake, when they came to her shop.
Superior Court Judge David Lampe on Monday scheduled Christian baker Cathy Miller’s trial for June 22.
The state Department for Fair Employment & Housing sued Miller in October 2018 on behalf of the same-sex couple.
It is the second lawsuit by the state regarding the incident. The previous case ended when a judge declared Miller’s actions were protected by the First Amendment. The state refused to appeal, and, despite the judge’s conclusion, filed a second lawsuit.
The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund, representing Miller, filed a brief making the same First Amendment argument but also asserts the same-sex couple “fraudulently” presented themselves as customers to provoke a lawsuit and, therefore, were “unlawful trespassers.”
Miller’s lawyers contend the couple, Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rios, “conspired with one another and/or aided and abetted one another in bringing what they know is a fraudulent and meritless complaint to … collect a money judgment.”
They participated in a “blatant abuse of process” in bringing the complaint, FCDF said, with the goal of cashing in financially as well as harming Miller and her Tastries Bakery.
Additionally, the claims are “barred because the Rodriguez-Del Rios gained access to Tastries Bakery based on their fraudulent intent to trigger this meritless lawsuit.”
“Motivated by ulterior objectives, they knowingly and fraudulently presented themselves as potential Tastries customers willing to abide by Miller and Tastries’ policies and reasonable requests. … Consequently, the Rodriguez-Del Rios were unlawful trespassers.”
The brief also argues the state’s claims are meritless because Miller and her bakery “were fully justified in lawfully exercising their free speech and free exercise rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitutions.”
The filing contends state non-discrimination laws are unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
“As a practicing Christian and law-abiding business owner, Cathy welcomingly serves all customers,” said Daniel Piedra, FCDF’s executive director. “Cathy has never discriminated against LGBT persons, yet California bureaucrats are determined to humiliate Cathy and shutter her bakery. Their relentless hostility, which includes this meritless lawsuit, is motivated solely by their anti-religious animus.”
It was August 2017 when the same-sex couple asked Miller to create a cake for their wedding celebration, the legal team said.
“Miller declined the request because the custom cake would have expressed messages about marriage that conflict with her Christian faith. The couple filed a discrimination complaint with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the agency that enforces the state’s anti-discrimination law. The DFEH sued Miller, seeking a court order that would force Cathy to create custom cakes for everyone or no cakes at all. In February 2018, state court judge David Lampe ruled in Miller’s favor, holding that her beliefs are protected by the First Amendment. Despite losing in court, the DFEH sued Miller again in October 2018,” the legal team said.
Piedra said California’s lawyers “are ignoring their previous loss and are continuing to single out Cathy to punish her for her religious beliefs.”
“Even though Cathy serves all customers and simply declines to create custom cakes that express messages or celebrate events that violate her Christian faith, the government is intent on destroying her—something the U.S. Supreme Court has already forbidden in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. Neither Cathy nor any other creative professional should be targeted by the government for living and working according to their religious beliefs.”
WND reported the same-sex couple “had intentionally been searching for a business that would ‘discriminate’ against them, wearing hidden microphones to catch a business owner in the act.”
The defense team pointed out: “Although the lawsuit claims ‘Eileen and Mireya did not know what to do’ after the incident, the record shows the couple immediately took to social media, and within 30 minutes Miller began receiving death threats and emails containing images of people engaging in depraved sexual acts. News crews arrived shortly afterward. Traumatized by the sudden wave of rage from the LGBT activists, several Tastries employees quit.”
After the judge sided with Miller in the first case, the state said it could continue its investigation of Miller, no matter the court’s ruling.