By Fred Barbash
Forcing a baker to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage over her religious objections violates her right to free speech, a California judge has ruled.
“A wedding cake is not just a cake in a Free Speech analysis,” wrote Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe in a decision late Monday. “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,” he said.
As a result, a state anti-discrimination law, which applies to all kinds of other goods and services, does not apply to the baker, who lives in Bakersfield.
The judge’s reasoning is similar to that of the “cake artist” awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In that case, Jack C. Phillips, a Colorado baker, is arguing that the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise of religion clauses give him the right to refuse wedding services to a same-sex couple, despite public accommodations laws that require businesses that are open to the public to treat all potential customers equally. The court heard arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in December.
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