The “gay cake” row has been rumbling on for a few days now. The BBC website states the following:
“A Christian-run bakery that refused a customer’s request to make a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage could face a discrimination case in court.
Ashers Baking Company declined an order from a gay rights activist, asking for cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie.
The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called “Queerspace”.
The cake was ordered for a civic event in Bangor Castle Town Hall, County Down, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia”
The arguments on the web over the issue are becoming heated, which is rather surprising considering this appears to me to be a clear cut case of discrimination – just as in the case of the B&B that refused to allow a gay couple to share a room a few years back. However, not everyone agrees. Tina Calder of “News Letter” website write the following:
“While my personal opinion is to live and let live and I support everyone’s right to choose I have to say that includes the bakery.
I may think it is wrong for the bakery owner to refuse to make the cake but the solid facts of the matter are that this business proprietor had an absolute right to decline any order they didn’t want to service.
Surely serving a customer is at the discretion of the business owner?
If we are going to insist on fighting for equality then it’s important that we extend that right even to those we don’t agree with.
We may not believe in the same ethical principles as one another but it is important to respect people’s right to hold their opinion or beliefs.”
So, Miss Calder, the “serving of a customer is at the discretion of the business owner?” Would you feel the same way if the cake owners had a sign in their window saying “no ethnic minorities?” Would you feel there was anything wrong with that? After all, it’s up to the discretion of the business owner who they serve, right?
Unsurprisingly, the Daily Mail (ever the voice of reason!) have rather exaggerated the issue:
“The challenge to the Christian-run Ashers Baking Company is the first likely legal case in which anyone has been told it is against the law to refuse to take part in gay rights publicity campaigns.”
Errr, that’s not strictly true. They were being asked to provide a cake – that they were getting paid for. That’s hardly the same as holding them at gunpoint and making them walk down the street in drag with a rainbow flag.
Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail goes on (and on…):
“Mr Lee was turned down not because of his sexual orientation but because of the provocative nature of the cake he wanted baked.”
Hardly provocative given that we are living in 2014. We are talking about two characters from Sesame Street here.
Of course, the Daily Mail article has the backing of the “news”paper’s readers. “Daffodil” suggests that:
“the answer is ,,,Bake the cake and charge ’em £ 1000.00. that should do it .”
This might be a great decision. The bakery could then donate the £1000 to “Daffodil” so that she could go to evening classes and learn how to use full stops, commas, and capital letters. A win-win situation.
Meanwhile, “Papillon” writes states that the situation is:
“forced tolerance. makes a lot of sense. I feel so guilty to be a white heterosexual male. I must be the bad guy.”
Well, Papillon might well be the bad guy. He does, after all, have an avatar of a man cocking a pistol (oh, the irony).
“F2” asks the following question:
“Should gay bakers be forced to make cakes with “Oppose Gay Marriage” slogans?”
Whether we like it or not, that is a question that needs to be asked, even if the scenario is as unlikely as being asked to bake a cake with a slogan on it supporting gay marriage.
What seems most odd, however, is why a certain group of people believe that rules do not apply to them because they believe in a man in the sky. Yes, they have a right to believe what they want – and I have no argument against that – but if they run a company (whether a B&B or a bakery) designed to serve the public, then that is what they should do. The law that states that business owners have a right not to serve people at their own discretion is archaic and needs to be changed. This may well be a test case for that if it ever gets to court.
The key thing here, though, is that religious beliefs should not be used as a valid excuse for discrimination.