A California same-sex couple was turned away from a bakery because of the owner’s religious beliefs, and the owner is standing by her decision despite intense backlash.
As Bakersfield Now reports, Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller has made it clear from the day she opened that, as far as her employees and customers are concerned, “This is God’s bakery.”
A gay couple, identified by the Bakersfield Californian as Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, went to Tastries to talk to Miller about a cake for their upcoming wedding. Miller, who doesn’t support gay marriage, declined to make a cake for the couple. However, she insists that she didn’t turn them away, but rather, she referred them to other bakers who may be able to meet the couple’s needs.
“I don’t condone same-sex marriage.”
Mireya says that Miller’s attitude was condescending and hurtful.
“I’d never had someone discriminate and put me down and make me feel bad.”
When they got home, the couple posted about their experience on Facebook. Mireya says that she was so overwhelmed with stress and anger over the situation that she developed a nosebleed.
Almost immediately, the backlash began. As often happens when a business makes the news, the business’ presence on review sites such as Yelp was equal parts swift and harsh.
Jym S: “All are not welcome. Will discriminate on GOD knows what. You really ARE NOT. welcome if you are gay, so don’t bother going there.”
— Bako.com (@Bakocom) September 1, 2017
Other people began calling the bakery directly, loudly cursing out and threatening whoever answered the phone. So bad was the abuse, says Miller, that at one point one of her employees quit.
“They take it out on my employees, instead of me.”
Messages of Support
Others have offered their support to Miller for sticking to her guns. Miller says that random customers have walked in and thanked her for her stand and have purchased baked goods as a show of support.
“It was just a real blessing to see that support in this really difficult time.”
— Bakersfield CA (@BakersfieldCArr) August 29, 2017
What California Law Has To Say
Unfortunately for Miller, California law is not on her side. Specifically, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prevents businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation (among other things).
The Rodriguez-Del Rios have already filed a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the California agency that enforces the Act, and the agency has been in contact with the bakery owner. The couple has also contacted the American Civil Liberties Union to discuss a lawsuit.
Bakersfield LGBTQ advocate Whitney Weddell says she believes the couple will “exhaust every legal strategy.”
Do you believe Tastries Bakery should be punished for refusing to bake a cake for an LGBTQ couple? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Featured Image by AmberLaneRoberts/Thinkstock]