The owners of Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland, victims of the growing international menace of gay cake-eaters, might be feeling a little discouraged this week after nearly a year of legal wrangling ended with a Belfast court fining them for the “gay cake row” they started with some innocent biblically-inspired discrimination.
The story of Ashers is not only a cautionary tale cited by the homophobes in Ireland who just lost big in their bid to keep same-sex marriage off the other side of the McArthurs’ island, but a draw for the sympathy and support of America’s delegates to the World Conference of Homophobic Bakers. Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the now-shuttered Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which
the State of Oregon the free market closed down in 2013 after they refused to fill an order for a lesbian wedding, have taken to the press to express their Thoughts on the case.
Mrs. Klein said she felt the judgment against the McArthur family, which owns the bakery, was “ridiculous.”
“They should have the right to be free not to express something they don’t agree with,” she said. “To me, being a baker, the cake is our canvas and we get to put our artwork on it. When you make a cake, you are putting your signature on it and they should have the right not to do it.”
The Democratic Unionist Party is attempting to build into Northern Ireland’s equality law a conscience clause that would allow businesses to refuse to provide some services if they clash with their strongly held religious convictions, and the Kleins said they would support such legislation.
Mr. Klein said: “We’re not trying to do something that is overtly trying to hurt someone, we’re not trying to tell someone you can’t have a cookie in my shop, we’re just saying we don’t support an event. My message to Ashers bakery is stand, fight this. It’s time for Christians to unite.”
Ashers Bakery actually went further than Sweet Cakes by Melissa in its gay cake objection, since the order they turned down was not for a giant piece of custom cakery for a sinful same-sex wedding reception. Customer Gareth Lee only wanted a regular-sized cake that happened to include Bert and Ernie, the platonic roommates of Sesame Street:
Mr. Lee told the County Court in Belfast: “I wasn’t asking anyone to support my views on anything. It was just an everyday transaction.”
Mr, Lee wanted the cake to include a slogan that said “support gay marriage” along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, and the logo of the Queerspace organisation.
Nice try, Mr. Lee, but the McArthurs are far too pious to be dragged screaming into the lake of fire for putting this sinful image on one of their good Christian cakes.
The McArthurs can thank their choice of god that they live in Northern Ireland, the last country in the United Kingdom holding out against marriage equality. Unlike the Kleins, who recently lost their battle with Satan for the soul of their GoFundMe page, the McArthurs’ religious objections to gay cakes do not seem poised to take down their company. A chain with a half-dozen retail outlets is unlikely to be crippled by a fine of £500 (about $774), and their legal defense has been sponsored, with enthusiasm, by the UK’s anti-gay Christian Institute.
For the moment, Ashers Bakery is avoiding what we assume would be a deluge of gay cake requests by only taking custom orders for “birthdays and baby-related products.” We would encourage you to try out their Build-A-Cake generator to see what kind of messages they’d be willing to write with their blessed hands, but it would involve clicking through their creepy site. Enter at your own risk.
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