Following multiple similar fights in the United States over “wedding” cakes for homosexuals, including those in Iowa, Oregon and Colorado, a baker in Northern Ireland has been ordered to create a novelty cake with a picture of a couple of Sesame Street characters and the logo of QueerSpace, a homosexual “rights” group.
According to a report in the Telegraph, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland has written to Ashers Baking Co., based in Newtownabbey, to give the company seven days to “remedy your illegal behavior.”
The government officials there claimed a decision by the bakery to refuse to create the cake amounted to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – even though homosexual “marriage” is not legal in Northern Ireland.
According to officials with The Christian Institute, which is working on behalf of Ashers, the cake was to be used for a pro-homosexual campaign.
And, the Institute pointedly notes, it is not illegal to refuse to endorse a political campaign.
“The McArthur family, who own Ashers Baking Company in the Belfast area, said they could not fulfill the order because it conflicts with their Christian beliefs about marriage being between a man and a woman,” the organization said.
The situation developed with “volunteer LGBT activist Gareth Lee asked for a cake to be decorated with the slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage,’” the organization said.
“He also wanted a logo of his campaign group QueerSpace and a photo of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie in an embrace to be printed on the cake.”
The company’s manager and directors vetoed it.
“We are Christians and our Christianity reaches to every point of our lives, whether that’s at home or in the day-to-day running of our business,” said Manager Daniel McArthur. “We thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs, certainly was in contradiction with what the Bible teaches.”
He continued, “Although we have found this experience certainly unsettling and disruptive to our day-to-day business, we are certainly convinced that we have made the right decision, and we continue to take the stance that we do take.”
The company is named after a Bible verse, Gen. 49:20, which states, “Bread from Asher shall be rich…”
“This is a sign of things to come exactly as we predicted,” said Colin Hart, the director of the Institute. “The government repeatedly failed to listen to members of the public, lawyers, constitutional experts, even its own MPs when they called for safeguards to protect those who back traditional marriage, whether at work or in business. All the McArthurs want is to run their bakery according to their Christian beliefs.”
He said, “No one would be forced to use their creative skills to promote a cause which goes against their consciences. … It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.”
Similar situations have developed several times in the United States recently – even though the most recent statement from the U.S. Supreme Court is that the government cannot force owners of corporations to violate their faith by requiring them to provide abortifacients.
That came in the ruling regarding Hobby Lobby, and addresses a related, but not identical fight.
The broad overview of that case said that people do not lose their religious freedom just because they open a business.
The Colorado Civil Rights Division told a Lakewood, Colorado, baker he must violate his faith and create “wedding” cakes for same-sex duos, even though the state doesn’t recognize such unions.
The ruling came in a dispute between Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who runs Masterpiece bakery, and two homosexuals for whom he declined to create a cake in 2012. Colorado’s constitution doesn’t recognize “same-sex marriage,” and attorneys representing Phillips said the decision is a step too far.
“The government … seek[s] to impose a new belief system upon Jack [Phillips], one that is fundamentally at odds with his conscience and his liberty,” explained a legal filing from attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom representing Phillips and his Masterpiece Cakes in Lakewood.
Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer essentially dismissed the Constitution’s protections for religious rights, and ordered Phillips, on pain of fines or even jail time, to violate his faith and provide the wedding cake to homosexuals Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
Spencer was wrong, according to Phillips’ lawyers, because “the ALJ’s recommendation that respondents ‘[c]ease and desist from discriminating against complainants and other same-sex couples by refusing to sell them wedding cakes or any other product respondents would provide to heterosexual couples’ is overbroad and exceeds the scope of relief authorized [under state law].”
“America was founded on the fundamental freedom of all citizens to live and work without fear of government punishment,” said Nicole Martin, lead counsel in the case.
Aaron Klein, owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, said the company stands by its Christian faith and the decisions based on that.
Several years earlier, an Iowa baker was facing a similar attack for declining to provide a wedding cake for two lesbians.
It came in the case involving Peter and Hazelmary Bull, who run a bed and breakfast and were sued by two homosexuals when the Christian couple refused to rent them a bedroom in their business, which also is their home.
The fight brought on by the homosexuals went all the way to the nation’s highest court, resulting in an order that the Christian couple pay the “gay” duo a couple thousand dollars in damages.
All based on the idea of “nondiscrimination” laws where homosexuals are protected, but Christians are not. That Christians’ beliefs and practices must cede to the trendy notion of homosexuality.
Now a key judge in that British court case is having second thoughts.
Serious second thoughts.
In fact, according to a report in the Daily Mail, Baroness Hale, the deputy president of the Supreme Court, said in a speech that her decision may have been wrong.
She is warning that the law, according to the report, “has done too little to protect the beliefs of Christians.”
Hale and four other judges ruled against the Bulls in the case that started in 2008 by determining that the rights of homosexuals outweighed the conscience requirements of the Christians couple who said they could not allow that behavior in their home, which also is their business.
At the time, Hale said society should be “slow to accept” the rights of Christians.
Now, however, the Daily Mail said she has acknowledged that laws that ignore Christian beliefs might not be “sustainable.”
She put her words into action, too, ruling in a very unusual move with other judges that the Bulls are not obligated to pay the legal costs of the case against them.
WND also reported recently that an appellate court ruled in a different UK dispute over homosexuals’ access to bed-and-breakfast facilities that religious rights are as valid as “gay” rights.
The opinion came in a case against the Swiss Bed and Breakfast in Cookham, Berkshire. The owner, Susanne Wilkinson, was ordered earlier to pay a homosexual duo, Michael Black and John Morgan, about $6,000 in damages for denying them permission to use a bedroom.
Nevertheless, the determination that religious rights are as valid as “gay” rights was significant, according to the Christian Institute.
“There is hope for Christian-owned bed and breakfasts that restrict double rooms to married couples only,” the organization reported.