N. Ireland Bakers Lose, Must Promote Gay ‘Marriage’

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  October 26, 2016   

Even gay activist sides with family against court ruling

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BELFAST (ChurchMilitant.com) - Christian bakers in Northern Ireland must make cakes saying "Support Gay Marriage" or be guilty of discrimination, according to a court of appeals decision this week in Belfast. 

After the court's decision issued Monday, October 26 against Ashers Bakery, owner Daniel McArthur accompanied by his wife Amy emphasized that it was never about the gay litigant in question — Gareth Lee — but about the explicitly gay message.

We had served Mr. Lee before and would be happy to serve him again. The judges accepted that we did not know Mr. Lee was gay and that was not the reason we declined the order. We have always said it was never about the customer, it was about the message. The court accepted that. But now we are being told we have to promote the message even though it's against our conscience.

The case began in May 2015 when gay activist Lee asked McArthur's family-owned business, Ashers Bakery, to decorate a cake with the words "Support Gay Marriage" on top. Northern Ireland remains the only region in the United Kingdom where so-called same-sex marriage is not legalized. After the McArthurs refused, Lee sued for discrimination, and the case has since then worked its way to the appeals court in Belfast.
In this week's, decision Chief Justice Declan Morgan ruled, "The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team or portrays witches on a Halloween cake does not indicate any support for either."
In expressing his disappointment with Monday's ruling, McArthur stated that compliance wasn't possible. "We wouldn't decorate a cake with a pornographic picture or with swear words. We wouldn't decorate a cake with a spiteful message about gay people, because to do so would be to endorse and promote what was said."
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who has sided with the family in the past, criticized the court's decision.
Although I strongly disagree with Ashers' opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be compelled to facilitate a political idea that they oppose. Ashers did not discriminate against the customer, Gareth Lee, because he was gay. They objected to the message he wanted on the cake: "Support gay marriage."


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