When it comes to marriage, the issue is bigger than the cake. One of the best known recent cases pitting “marriage equality” against individual freedoms is that of the Ashers Bakery in Belfast. The owners of Ashers Bakery declined to make a cake featuring an image of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the slogan, “Support Gay Marriage,” because they disagreed with the message and believed they should not be forced to contribute to the spreading of an idea with which they did not agree.
An intriguing aspect about the Ashers Bakery case is that it did not stem from a request for them to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, but rather for a political message. The sexual orientation of the person who made the order was irrelevant, but the Belfast Appeals Court bizarrely ruled it to be a case of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation regardless.
There have been outspoken, pro-same-sex marriage advocates who side with Ashers Bakery, and even defend their right to act as they did. One such individual, Peter Tatchell, condemns the Belfast Appeals court for their ruling against the Christian Bakers:
This verdict is a defeat for freedom of expression. As well as meaning that Ashers can be legally forced to aid the promotion of same-sex marriage against their wishes, it also implies that gay bakers could be forced by law to decorate cakes with homophobic slogans.
It seems the judges have decided that businesses cannot lawfully refuse a customer’s request to propagate a message, even if it is sexist, xenophobic or anti-gay and even if the business owners have a conscientious objection to it.
Tatchell goes on to describe how this case sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the world:
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 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.”
Discrimination against LGBT people is wrong and is rightly unlawful. But in a democratic society, people should be able to discriminate against ideas they disagree with. I am saddened that the court did not reach the same conclusion.
Sharing this view, self-identified gay man, Neil Midgley, also defends the Ashers’ rights, and points out that this case is not about marriage equality: it is about crushing the rights of those who dare to disagree with the prevailing ideology of the day:
I am a gay man. I support equality under the law for people of all sexual and gender inclinations. More to the point, I love cake. Nonetheless, I’m siding with the Christians. This gay plaintiff is wrong; the law is wrong. Nobody should be forced by law to bake anybody else a cake. Ever.
Believe it or not, given the triviality of the case, there are some serious democratic and political principles involved. Before I get on my high horse, though, I want to take a moment to point out just how plainly ridiculous this case is.
A gay activist, Gareth Lee, ordered a cake from a Northern Irish bakery run by Karen and Daniel McArthur, who are Christians. They refused to make it, on the grounds that writing “Support Gay Marriage” on the top would be “sinful”. He sued them under equality legislation. The Christians lost. They appealed. They lost.
Midgley also points out the extreme irony in the case, and how the case is more about forcing an agenda on anyone who dares to disagree:
Having won these political battles by exercising our own political freedoms, then, it is ironic that many gays are so keen to deny similar freedoms to Christians (or anyone else who disagrees with the gay agenda).
The Ashers Bakery case is, unfortunately, an affirmation that reason, justice, logic, and freedom are being dismissed and discarded to make way for politically correct “tolerance”. The irony of tolerance is extreme, and the consequences are dire. Australians must take note: same-sex marriage affects all parties involved. If this issue is not decided by the people, it will be forced on the people, just as it was forced on Ashers Bakery, and even forced on the same-sex marriage advocates who defended the bakers.