Gay cake wars: a new twist in Denver
Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver’s Azucar Bakery in Denver, Colorado, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious belief by refusing to put a ‘God hates gays’ message on a Bible-shaped cake.
According to this report, the dispute erupted when a customer entered her premises last year and requested cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with “hateful words about gays” that he wanted written on the cake.
He also wanted his “God hates Gays” cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.
She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn’t want that.
Said Siva, 40:
It’s just horrible. It doesn’t matter if, you know, if you’re Catholic, or Jewish, or Christian, if I’m gay or not gay or whatever. We should all be loving each other. I mean there’s no reason to discriminate.
KUSA-TV identified the complainant as one Bill Jack of Castle Rock, Denver.
In a statement to the television station, Jack said he believes:
He was discriminated against by the bakery based on my creed. As a result, I filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. Out of respect for the process, I will wait for the director to release his findings before making further comments.
The case comes as Republicans in Colorado’s Legislature talk about changing the state law requiring that businesses serve gays in the wake of a series of incidents where religious business owners rejected orders to celebrate gay weddings.
Republican Senator Kevin Lundberg said the new case shows a “clash of values” and argued Colorado’s public accommodation law is not working.
Last June Colorado baker Jack Phillips, above, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, pledged to stop making wedding cakes after the Civil Rights Commission ordered him to start baking for same-sex couples.
Phillips was willing to go to court to defend his decision to refuse service to two grooms who walked into his shop last year looking for a way to celebrate their marriage.
His crusade turned out to be a monumental failure after the Commission unanimously ruled that he had violated civil rights law by discriminating against the couple.
Phillips’ attorneys had argued in court that requiring him to prepare a gay marriage cake would be akin to forcing a black baker to prepare a cake with a white supremacist message. But administrative law judge Robert N Spencer disagreed, writing that business owners can refuse a specific message, but not service.
Said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado:
There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it.
One of Phillips’ attorneys, Nicolle Martin, said she has sympathy for Silva, arguing she is in the same category as her client.
I absolutely support her right to decline. I support her right as an American to pick and choose the messages she will express.
Silva said she remains shaken up by the incident.
I really think I should be the one putting the complaint against him, because he has a very discriminating message.
Meanwhile, in the UK, a YouGov poll finds that two-thirds (65 percent) of British people disapprove of the legal proceedings pursued by the Equality Commission against Ashers Bakery in Northern Ireland, compared to a quarter (25 percent) who approve and 10 percent who don’t know.