We were beginning to wonder if we would live to see the day where a judge finally made a sensible, constitutionally-sound ruling in one of these LGBT Army vs. Practicing Christian Business Owner cases, so we were ecstatic when the news came in from…California? Are we reading this right? Wow.
Superior Court Judge David Lampe ruled against the state on Monday, saying that California did not have the authority to force bakery owner Cathy Miller to design a cake for a lesbian couple’s impending wedding. Indeed, Judge Lampe said that to give the state such authority would be in clear violation of the First Amendment, as it would compel the baker to “speak” a message that she would otherwise never support.
“For this court to force such compliance would do violence to the essentials of Free Speech guaranteed under the First Amendment,” Lampe ruled.
The judge refused to grant California prosecutors the preliminary injunction they were seeking, which would have compelled Miller to comply with the couple’s cake request if she did not want to have her bakery forcibly closed down.
“We are pleased that the judge recognized that the First Amendment protects Cathy’s freedom of speech,” said Miller’s attorney, Charles LiMandri. “This is a significant victory for faith and freedom because the judge indicated in his ruling that the State cannot succeed in this case as a matter of law. No doubt the California officials will continue their persecution of Cathy, but it is clear that she has the Constitution on her side.”
We can’t begin to express what a breath of fresh air this ruling is. These cases, the majority of which have been decided wrongly, have little to do with LGBT “rights” or even religious beliefs, even though they include elements of both. They are basic, fundamental free speech cases and it has been absolutely baffling to watch court after court decide them in favor of the disgruntled customers. The government cannot curb your right to express yourself, and that cannot but include a prohibition on forcing you to express something you don’t want to say. That may not be written specifically into the Constitution, but without that corollary, the written part becomes meaningless.
Another basic fact that almost every judge (until this one) has missed: There is a big difference between discriminating against a gay customer and choosing not to bake a cake for a gay wedding. “Gay weddings” are not a protected class. You cannot legally discriminate against a cake. In none of these cases – not this one, and not any of the others we’ve seen – has the business owner said, “No, we don’t serve your kind here.” THAT would be actionable. Declining to bake a cake with a message you don’t agree with? That’s called freedom, baby.
Glad to see there’s still some of it left.