At a hearing on Friday, things didn’t seem to go very well for
attorney Charles LiMandri who is defending yet another bigoted baker
Lawyer Charles LiMandri finds himself representing Cathy Miller who owns a bakery in Bakersfield, California called Tastries. Same old story, some self-righteous purveyor of unhealthy food decided that she would not serve a gay couple. “Hrumph … I’ll show them!” These folks withhold service in order to demonstrate their disapproval. They have every right to deny service, the thinking goes, if they simply spout off some gibberish about sincerely held religious belief.
Think about it. These people worship an all-knowing omnipotent deity. Surely s/he would give Miller a pass knowing that the state requires her to bake the cake. What’s really at work here is that these are the sorest of sore losers.
At one time, Charles LiMandri was the attorney for National Organization for Marriage. Those days are over. In 2012 LiMandri formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund. It is just one more pro bono legal group where people who have defied nondiscrimination laws can go for representation. LiMandri is a defender of discriminators and the holy faith.
For the year ended June 30, 2017, the nonprofit’s revenues were off about a third from the prior year and the lowest since inception. No fun. That brings me back to Cathy Miller and her bakery.
At a hearing on Friday, Kern County Judge David Lampe had some questions for LiMandri. The state has asked the court to impose an injunction on the baker:
The briefings conflate free exercise with free speech; it seems not to be clear. What right are you asserting here?
After claiming that both First Amendment protections are at issue because a wedding cake represents marriage which Christians believe is a holy sacrament created by God:
My client believes that marriage is between a man and a woman. Compelling her to make a cake [for a same-sex couple] would force her to engage in an expression offensive to her religion.
The exasperated judge explained that the design of cakes for gay and opposite-sex couples is basically the same. Thus, what offends Ms. Miller is not baking the cake but who is buying it.
The fact of this case is that my client has to provide what the customer wants and what they want is to have a wedding cake made by Tastries be the centerpiece of a same-sex wedding ceremony, which Miller does not agree with.
Yeah, that clarifies everything Chucky. It doesn’t penetrate LiMandri’s fundamentalist Catholic skull that the centerpiece of every wedding are the betrothed. That’s not to suggest that the cake is not an important element but by the time they get to it, the couple are wed, stuffed with uniformly awful food and probably inebriated.
You seem to be arguing about what happens afterward, consequences that move us away from the facts of the case.
It’s a work of art, creative expression.
It comes back to conflating the issues of free exercise and free speech.
LiMandri went on a Hobby Lobby tear. LiMandri and the judge both failed to appreciate that the Hobby Lobby ruling rested on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which only applies to federal law.
However Judge Lampe pointed out that the state is not specifically enforcing nondiscrimination laws against Christian bakers and that the position of the state would be the same “if the baker was an agnostic Pagan” who didn’t want to serve same-sex couples.
Ignoring what the judge said, LiMandri responded by saying that his client was victimized by the couple, Eileen and Mireya Rodriguez-Del Rio, who specifically targeted the bakery, shopping more for a lawsuit than a cake.
It was well-planned and choreographed, and the state was more than happy to jump on board. There is evidence of religious discrimination, and the Unruh Act [the state’s nondiscrimination law] also prevents religious discrimination.
“If I consider this a free speech issue by itself, my question would be: If a seller of wedding cakes refused to sell to an African-American couple or a mixed-race couple because of religion, you’d claim that there is no recognized religious dogma from this century that condones such racism?
Yes. We don’t condone such bigotry in the 21st century.
Lost on LiMamdri is the fact that what he just said is that he does condone such bigotry against gay couples in the 21st century. I suspect that LiMandri is going to have even less fun when the judge renders a decision.
The state’s argument is that what is being regulated is conduct rather than speech or religion. That closely parallels the 1878 ruling by the Supreme Court in Reynolds v. United States. The Court ruled that a religious duty was not an excuse for breaking the law.