California Caterer Refuses to Serve Gay Wedding, Cites ‘Christian Beliefs’

A Christian caterer in California has refused a gay couple’s request to service their upcoming marriage on the grounds that doing so would violate her religious beliefs. The Advocate reports:

Kaina_riveraOn November 26, Kama Kaina [left] contacted Janet Zimmerman Catering with a request to cater his wedding to his longtime partner, Mathew Rivera [right]. Zimmerman, who had been recommended by the couple's planned venue in Big Bear, Calif., initially agreed. But several hours later, she sent an email expressing a change of heart because of her "Christian beliefs."

"Thank you for contacting me in regards to your upcoming wedding," Zimmerman wrote to Kaina, according to an email forwarded to The Advocate. "I really appreciate that you were honest with me and gave me a heads up that this would be a same sex marriage. I hope that you will also appreciate when I am honest with you when I say that catering your wedding would comprise [sic] my Christian beliefs and I will be unable to accept this job. I am sure that you will be able to find someone who will better suit your needs."

The Advocate points out that although discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations is a violation of California’s Civil Rights Act, her actions may still be legal because Zimmerman’s catering business operates online primarily via Facebook.

According to David Hakimfar, a West Hollywood attorney and founding member of Pride Legal, Zimmerman may have acted within her legal right to refuse services to the gay couple, particularly if a court classified her company as a service rather than as a business establishment. To determine this distinction, the court would consider several factors — including the number of paid employees and whether it has physical facilities — all of which are detailed within the legal case Harris vs. Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

"It’s important to make a decision on what kind of business you have," said Hakimfar. "Because actually, there will be some times when you will be able to discriminate, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The law does make a distinction

Although Kaina says they were “completely shocked” by Zimmerman’s response, the couple has so far decided not to pursue legal action.

"I do believe that everything happens for a reason," Kaina said, "and that we will find the right caterer for our day."

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  1. What are Christians doing in California?

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 13, 2014 12:45:41 PM

  2. I would really like to know whether she refuses to cater for weddings of divorced persons or persons who are outside of her particular cult of Xtianity. If she does refuse those -- then so be it -- she should advertise her service only to her oarticular brand of cultists. If, OTOH she does cater to those weddings, she is exercising anti-gay animus and should be called-to-task for it.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Jan 13, 2014 12:49:35 PM

  3. Ms. Zimmerman better have a "place of business" and that better be a certified kitchen facility, because if she's cooking out of her home and serving it to people for pay, she's violating the California Health Code and will be shut down and fined.

    Posted by: ben~andy | Jan 13, 2014 12:51:25 PM

  4. One distinction, which I think is an important one, is that the caterer would be hired for the wedding reception, not the ceremony itself. A wedding reception is nothing more than a party. Does this caterer always know or even care what the reason is for every party she ever caters?

    Posted by: shawnthesheep | Jan 13, 2014 12:54:20 PM

  5. because, as Jesus said, "Don't feed gay people at a party"

    totes jesus.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 13, 2014 12:55:04 PM

  6. Smart move for business. She must have learned it in an excellent business school.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Jan 13, 2014 12:55:16 PM

  7. Women hates gays? Oh cue the surprise...

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 13, 2014 12:56:06 PM

  8. Kudos to the engaged couple for being better human beings than that loathsome pig-woman Janet Zimmerman.

    I also put it to anyone whom she might hire to work her events: Now that you know what a hate-filled pudding of a person this Zimmerman pig-woman is, show her how you feel. DON'T WORK FOR HER. Let's put the Xtianist b!tch out of business.

    Let's get the word out. Let's make it socially unacceptable to hire her for events in the Big Bear area. Let's reduce her to serving turkey roll-ups and Jello molds at Nazarene funeral gatherings. LET'S BURY HER BUSINESS.

    Posted by: One of the CA 36,000+ | Jan 13, 2014 12:56:20 PM

  9. Kudos for the gay couple for not turning this into a media circus for control freaks.....Boycotts don't work because stupid will always exist...

    Posted by: Ankerich | Jan 13, 2014 1:02:23 PM

  10. It's truly a shame that so many so-called "christians" don't seem to have read the bible very carefully. I wonder if hiring gay service personnel also violates her religious beliefs? As with so many 'christians' she might learn a thing or two that would put the lie to what 'pastor' has taught in the sermons, and that would throw her into even more turmoil.

    Bottom line, why would you want a caterer who didn't want to cater your affair? Better to find out now before planning got really involved than the day prior to the wedding..

    Posted by: Burt | Jan 13, 2014 1:03:43 PM

  11. The best way to handle this is to have every gay couple go to these companies for services. When they are turning people down left and right, only then will they know how damaging their beliefs are to their bottom line.

    No complaints, no boycotts, just a lot of math showing how bigotry does not add up.

    Posted by: Azgaard | Jan 13, 2014 1:05:17 PM

  12. Damn, she already deleted her Facebook page.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 13, 2014 1:09:18 PM

  13. She's an idiot, why wouldn't she just say "sorry but I am overbooked and don't have the capacity", end of story.

    Posted by: Randal Oulton | Jan 13, 2014 1:09:30 PM

  14. And again with the "boycotts don't work" trolls, decades after Rosa Parks. Brilliant. Who taught you history?

    This woman will pay for her bigotry one way or another. If she's this outrageously stupid, it's very unlikely she's not violating at least some laws, as speculated above. If she can't be trusted to run her business legally or ethically, who knows if her food is even safe to eat?

    The trolls who think anti-gay bigotry in business should go unpunished are not only idiots who are anti-gay, they're also fundamentally anti-American. Those trolls sure do hate a lot of people. No wonder they side with the bigots.

    Posted by: oncemorewithfeeling | Jan 13, 2014 1:15:15 PM

  15. just go find another caterer..if she refuses, then fine! no big deal

    Posted by: kian | Jan 13, 2014 1:16:06 PM

  16. I'm sure these boys can find a gayterer in California that would be happy to serve them and make their occasion wonderful. If fact, that should be a search listing on its own for all SS wedding planners.

    Posted by: ESA | Jan 13, 2014 1:21:06 PM

  17. God is big, as my grandfather used to say. This baker who hates gay marriage so much will wind up in one faster than you can say "Brokeback Mountain."

    Posted by: Frank | Jan 13, 2014 1:21:42 PM

  18. Why do the bigots have to TELL you that they're bigots? What kind of idiot businessperson is this? All she had to do was say "I'm sorry, I'm unable to fulfill your request - best of luck." She doesn't deserve to be successful on grounds of idiocy.

    Posted by: MikeRs | Jan 13, 2014 1:22:13 PM

  19. @Kian -- YOU are the problem here... Your ignorance about the cost of discrimination is an embarrassment to all who read it. I just get infuriated at idiots who think all the hard work we did for decades to gain a measure of equality was to insure that bigots get to continue to discriminate indiscriminately. STFU, troll!

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Jan 13, 2014 1:22:15 PM

  20. Just find another caterer? No big deal? Maybe once you are refused service because you're gay or perceived to be gay then you'll find it a big deal.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Jan 13, 2014 1:25:18 PM

  21. I think she did these guys a favor. Why should they employ a caterer who's a bigot when there will undoubtedly be other better options. I doubt we can always legislate to keep businesses from being small-minded but we can definitely choose not to use their services and find folks that are more than happy to work with us!

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Jan 13, 2014 1:28:50 PM

  22. Big Bear is a pretty small town. Why would the venue recommend a caterer who's not down for a same-sex wedding? Seems strange to me.

    I believe in the power of boycotts but when it's against a small business it feels more like bullying. I'm sure she took her facebook page down because it started to fill up with vile hate-filled messages calling her a bigot. Not exactly the way to win friends and influence people.

    I agree with AZGAARD, best way to handle it is to have more and more same-sex couples request her services. Make her say No again and again and again...especially to lavish big-budget affairs. I bet anything she'd begin to change her views.

    Posted by: txstevo | Jan 13, 2014 1:32:45 PM

  23. This is a criminal case (she broke state law.) The guys don't have to do anything. The state should pursue this case.

    Posted by: unruly | Jan 13, 2014 1:37:08 PM

  24. "Although Kaina says they were “completely shocked” by Zimmerman’s response, the couple has so far decided not to pursue legal action." Pathetic.

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Jan 13, 2014 1:41:31 PM

  25. I wonder, if when he fed the 5,000 with fish and loves, did Jesus ask each one if they were gay or lesbian?

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 13, 2014 1:49:55 PM

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