Northern Ireland Attorney General Backs Bakers Fined for Declining ‘Support Gay Marriage’ Cake

AsherBELFAST, Northern Ireland — The attorney general of Northern Ireland testified in court on Tuesday in favor of a Christian identified bakery that was fined last year for alleged discrimination for declining to print the phrase “support gay marriage” on a cake.

“I say very clearly, if it was a case where Mr. Lee had been refused some of Ashers excellent chocolate eclairs because he was gay or perceived to be gay I would be standing on the other side of the court,” John Larkin, QC told the Court of Appeals in Belfast on the second day of appeal proceedings over the matter.

“But it’s not about that,” he said. “It’s about expression and whether it’s lawful under Northern Ireland constitutional law for Ashers to be forced … to articulate or express or say a political message which is at variance with their political views, and in particular, their religious views.”

As previously reported, in May 2014, Ashers Baking Company in Newtonabbey—named after Genesis 49:20—was approached by a same-sex “marriage” supporter to bake a cake that was to feature the phrase, as well as the logo for the homosexual advocacy group QueerSpace. According to the Belfast Telegraph, the cake was for an event in observance of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Karen McArthur, the mother of manager Daniel McArthur, 24, initially accepted the order as she didn’t want the man to feel embarrassed. But as the matter was discussed with other family members, it was agreed upon that they could not go through with putting the message on the cake in good conscience before God.

Daniel McArthur told reporters that the company contacted the customer and offered a refund, explaining that same-sex “marriage” is against their Christian beliefs.

However, the customer, Gareth Lee, soon reported Ashers Baking Company to the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland, which in turn sent a warning to to McArthur, stating that he and his bakery had discriminated against Lee.

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In November 2015, the Commission ordered the bakery to pay compensation or face legal action. As the McArthur’s refused, the case moved forward in court. Judge Isobel Brownlie then ruled against the McArthurs, declaring them “guilty of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation,” and ordered the bakers to pay a fine equating to nearly $800 U.S. dollars.

“This is direct discrimination for which there can be no justification,” Brownlie said. “The defendants are not a religious organization. They are conducting a business for profit and, notwithstanding their genuine religious beliefs, there are no exceptions available under the 2006 regulations which apply to this case.”

Asher’s Bakery has stated that it is willing to serve homosexuals in general—one would not know about another’s sexual behavior unless they had requested a cake for such reasons—but should not be forced to decorate cakes with messages that urge others to “support gay marriage” in violation of their faith.

The McArthur’s therefore appealed the ruling, and the case went back to court on Monday. Robin Allen, QC, which represented Lee and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland in court, asserted that the bakers were not being forced to promote any particular message.

“It is no more forced speech than any of the delivery merchants or the post office or any of the companies that printed the numerous hoardings around Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland for the Assembly elections this week,” he said.

Larkin
Larkin

Allen argued that the phrase “support gay marriage” and “sexual orientation” are inextricably linked, and therefore the McArthurs are guilty of discrimination against Lee based on his orientation.

But David Scoffield, QC, the barrister for Ashers, noted the bakery had served Lee without issue in the past, and that the refusal had nothing to do with his identity, which was also unknown to the McArthurs.

Scoffield said that if a heterosexual person had asked for the same message, for instance as an advocate, it would likewise have been declined. He outlined that discrimination must be against a specific person, not mere ideas or concepts.

“To say you can discriminate against the orientation of a cake is nonsensical,” Scoffield said.

Larkin made similar contentions, stating that Brownlie’s ruling runs afoul of constitutional law.

“Although the case for the plaintiff is put pleasantly and with every appearance of sweet reasonableness, what cannot be disguised is that the defendants are being compelled, on pain of civil liability, to burn a pinch of incense at the altar of a god they do not worship,” he told those gathered. “The constitutional law of Northern Ireland, supplemented by the ECHR, resists such a compulsion.”

He said it was instead the McArthurs who are being discriminated against because of their Christian identity.

“The direct discrimination is the requirement on pain of civil liability, either under the Northern Ireland regulations or the 1998 Order, to articulate a view, express a view which is hostile to one’s own political or religious views,” Larkin declared. “It is clear the county court judge has given a greater legal value to the right to express a view supportive of gay marriage than the defendant’s wish not to be compelled to express that sentiment…”

As previously reported, a homosexual rights activist who previously condemned Ashers has now also come to support the rights of the bakery.

“In my view, it is an infringement of freedom to require businesses to aid the promotion of ideas to which they conscientiously object,” Peter Tatchell said in an article in February. “Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas.”


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  • Michael C

    I don’t know Ireland’s laws but I’ve always sided with these bakers. Just like the Azucar Bakery in Colorado, a baker shouldn’t be obligated to write or print a message on a cake that they find offensive.

    • TheBottomline4This

      “a baker shouldn’t be obligated to write or print a message on a cake that they find offensive.”
      Do you think bakeries should be obligated to make a cake for a gay event they don’t agree with?

      • Michael C

        Do you think bakeries should be obligated to make a cake for a gay event they don’t agree with?

        If the cake is isn’t any different from what the business would readily sell to other customers, that would be called discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That would be perfectly legal in most of the United States. It’s perfectly legal to deny employment, housing, and public accommodations to gay people in most of the country. In some states, it is prohibited.

        Eventually, it will be illegal for businesses to discriminate against gay and transgender people in employment, housing, and public accommodations throughout the U.S.

        I support laws that protect gay and transgender citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

        • TheBottomline4This

          “a baker shouldn’t be obligated to write or print a message on a cake that they find offensive.”
          Seems you practice selective hypocrisy.

          • Michael C

            How so?

            I believe that the Azucar Bakery has the right to refuse to print the words “Homosexuality is a detestable sin” on a cake just like I believe Asher’s Baking Company can refuse to print the words “Support Gay Marriage” on a cake.

          • acontraryview

            What was hypocritical about his stance?

        • sammy13

          “It’s perfectly legal to deny employment, housing, and public accommodations to gay people in most of the country.”

          Since when? Identify “most of the country” please.

          • Michael C

            Most people are surprised to find out that there’s no federal law prohibiting discrimination against gay and transgender U.S. citizens.

            Most people are surprised to find out that the majority of states allow discrimination against gay and transgender citizens.

            Most people are surprised to find out that it’s 100% legal for businesses to fire employees just because they’re gay or for landlords to deny housing to people just because they’re transgender or for stores and restaurants to refuse service to customers just because they’re gay in most of the U.S.

            It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Discrimination against gay and transgender people should be prohibited by law everywhere in the United States.

            …but it’s actually legal in most of the country.

          • http://www.TrustChristOrGoToHell.org VINDICATOR

            Businesses, families should be able to refuse service – like Kinky Friedman sings: WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO REFUSE SERVICE UNTO YOU!

            Matt 20:15 – Jesus supports this wholly. Free enterprise decides.

          • Michael C

            If you and Kinky Friedman oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you should contact your local representatives.

  • bowie1

    I had the idea, though, that Bert and Ernie were straight, not gay. P.S. In some lines of work a person gets to decide which contracts he or she takes on, even those lawyers who can take or turn down these cases.

    • Peter Leh

      true. that is why a business owner need to know the limits of his service and match their convictions to said limits.

      even a lawyer cannot turn away service based on equally protected groups. They can base on other factors, just not those few.

      • bowie1

        I imagine a lawyer would know what loopholes to use.

        • Peter Leh

          as should the baker or any business owner.

          as i have stated… of the thousands of ways to LEGALLY turn down business, don’t pick the few ILLEGAL ones: “religion, race, age, sex, disability, and sexual orientation.” (where applicable in each state)

          of course canadian and UK laws are different that in the states.

    • acontraryview

      I thought Bert and Ernie were puppets and thus had no sexuality.

  • 201821208 :)

    gotquestions dot org/gay-marriage dot html

  • 201821208 :)

    gotquestions dot org/gay-marriage dot html

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Gay wedding is abhorrent like Satanic worship to the Christians. The West must stop forcing the Christians to uphold the Sodomic sexual depravity. Why do secular Westerners leave others alone but oppress the Christians? Such a double standard and malicious cowardice. The Western nations have no morality apart from Christianity. The world cannot be tamed by the Western Sodom because God is the Creator and Ruler of the world. The Western culture needs a fix by the Christian Church, like all others do.

    • 201821208 :)

      “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” 2 Peter 3:3

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Amen. The Western nations were all a Christendom once before. The present persecution against the Christians in the West is abnormal. Bad kids who repay the good with their evil to the parents must get punished as criminals. They are human rights abusers.

        • Larry W. Jones

          Yes, we called it The Dark Ages.

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            The world has been always dark ages. Christianity alone brought salvation, charity, and universal literacy everywhere. You secular Westerners have been thoroughly spoiled by the gentle Christian Church who gave you everything excellent. Secularism is the Darkest Evil Age because it kills unwanted children and forces sexual depravity upon everyone. Your barbaric ancestors are far better than you. The West has no morality if it has no Christianity.

          • Larry W. Jones

            Christianity is not the only religion to bring “salvation;” every religion brings its own version of salvation, however it defines that. Christianity is not the dominant religion of planet Earth. Every religion has its own version of “charity.” And no religion has ever brought universal literacy to this very day. There is no “gentle Christian church,” since there is no single Christian Church; there is only a multitude of churches who call themselves “Christian” who are at war with each other interminably and who keep breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. Secularism is a totally separate issue from abortion; selling body parts has been exposed as a deliberate falsification, and secularism does not force depravity upon anyone. Everybody’s ancestors were barbarians by today’s standards, although they would have thought of themselves as quite civilized. And the West is civilized today not because of Christianity or any other of the multitude of religions but because of our recognition of civil rights of individuals. What planet are you living on?

          • Grace Kim Kwon

            Learn doctrines. Christianity alone has long-awaited Divine Savior and assurance of salvation. All other religions do not differ from atheism regarding absence of salvation. Other religions also do not have the concept of unconditional love of the one true living God, which is the true foundation of genuine charity. Christian Church brought universal literacy. Monks created written English languages and American Puritans invented public schools so that every child could read the Holy Bible. The Church is singular as the Body of Christ. Local churches are only the visible expressions. False leaders murdered Bible readers and translators. The Christian West alone had wars for the access to God’s truth, unlike any other civilizations. Denominations got divisions only to clarify God’s truth. Catholic Church has numerous branches within, too. Secularism is godlessness and godlessness murders unwanted children everywhere and forces sexual depravity. Secularism made the West very Anti-christian; therefore secularism is to be blamed for the West’s immorality and regression. Rights and freedom were taught by the Holy Bible alone. Secularism only corrupted the youth and polluted the entire planet. The West has no conscience apart from Christianity. Today’s secular Westerners do not read the Holy Bible; the reason you do not know where you are from or why you are living, attacking the Christianity shamelessly. You must repent of your sin to get saved. Read John ch. 3.

  • WesternIowan

    Based on the intellectually bankrupt reasoning proferred by the Attorney General, all laws protecting against religious discrimination would be null and void because they interfere with the expression of other people’s religious values that require no religion but their own be utmost. So Protestants could discriminate against Catholics and vice versa in all things under that line of thinking, because anyone practicing any other religious view or who falls into any of the areas religious people like targeting others for is violating the service provider’s self-set religious standards. Women would have no protection because many people’s religious views encompass inequality for women and their required subjugation. That’s why it is nonsensical or insane in civil society because it would require religious people to have the right to discriminate against other religious people, as well as others. If your name is from the bible, providers could use their own religious views to refuse to put your name on a cake or to put your name on a business contract – based on the Attorney General’s illogic.

    • Josey

      oh get real and at least pretend to have common sense, the message these homosexuals wanted on their cake supports their lifestyle which goes against the faith of the baker’s right not to support said lifestyle.

      • WorldGoneCrazy

        New Atheism is just plain mean, Josie. The hijackers of Bert and Ernie never learned basic kindergarten ethics.

        “Political correctness is tyranny with a happy face.” — Charlton Heston

      • WesternIowan

        Then you state upfront that you do not do messages on cakes about any marriages. You don’t wait to break the law by discriminating against a couple while profiting from others you like and then whine about having to pay the piper when you break the law by picking and choosing. BTW working on the Sabbath is punishable by death according to the bible but they still pay the local power company to provide power on the Sabbath so they can turn on the lights. So the hypocrisy is massive and the prejudice plain as day.

        • acontraryview

          The fact that the baker puts messages on cakes does not obligate the baker to put whatever message a customer wants on a cake. With that said, if, and only if, the baker had made a cake that read: “Support Straight Marriage” but then refused to put the message “Support Gay Marriage” on a cake, there might be an issue.

    • acontraryview

      What did the AG say that would lead you to those conclusions?

  • Slidellman4life

    Am I the only one who is absolutely sickened by the deliberate presentation of Bert and Ernie–two puppets on an iconic television show made for children–as a homosexual couple?

    This is how you know the LGBTQW crowd has absolutely no sense of decency or boundaries. In their warped world, nothing is sacred. And that makes them dangerous.

    • TheBottomline4This

      Most in the lgbtxyz community have no sense of decency or boundaries. Their warped world blinds them from living within the walls of decency and boundaries. They are of no danger to me. I don’t enable them. They are a danger to those who are not smart enough to not enable them. It’s good to know God will deal very well with them when their time comes 🙂

      • acontraryview

        I think you may be in for quite a shock when your time comes.

    • WorldGoneCrazy

      Indeed, I find it hard to believe that Bert and Ernie would think it “good” to sue bakers and florists and photographers for hundreds of thousands of dollars in faux “damages.” Surely, this is kindergarten ethics turned upside down, even on atheism?

      Never in my wildest dreams as an atheist would I have thought to sue people like this, or demand crosses be taken down, etc. To me, that would have lent credibility to the charge that atheism was just another religion of sorts. And it is just plain mean.

      • acontraryview

        “Indeed, I find it hard to believe that Bert and Ernie would think it “good” to sue bakers and florists and photographers for hundreds of thousands of dollars in faux “damages.” ”

        Actually, Sesame Street is pretty big on treating people the same and not denying people something because of who they are. In addition, I view them as being supportive of people following the law and not breaking the law. Finally, I think they would be fine with people being held accountable for breaking the law. It’s called taking responsibility for your actions. Something that is taught on the show.

        • WorldGoneCrazy

          “Sesame Street is pretty big on treating people the same and not denying people something because of who they are. ”

          Yes, exactly, which is why they would be aghast at the Gaystapo denying bakers their money by suing them because of who they are – Christians. OMG – thank you for stepping into it like that – you are the gift that keeps on giving! 🙂

          • acontraryview

            If what you said were true, they most likely would be aghast. But, no surprise, it’s not true. No one was sued for being Christian. They were sued because they broke the law.

            No doubt Bert and Ernie would be aghast at your lying.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            Projection, logic fail, and lacking self-awareness on your part.

            But, thanks for making my day!

          • acontraryview

            What projection are you suggesting I exhibited?

            In what way was my post a logical fail?

            What self-awareness to you believe I am lacking.

            “But, thanks for making my day!”

            If my post made your day, I feel sorry for you that your day is so empty.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            It is not my job to cure you of your lack of self-awareness regarding your projection, logic fail, or even your lack of self-awareness.

            You are free to live in your delusional world in which Bert and Ernie would sue someone for hundreds of thousands of dollars for not baking them a cake, but that does not mean anyone should take you seriously. It just means that you are a mean person who lacks the self-awareness of same.

          • acontraryview

            “It is not my job to cure you of your lack of self-awareness regarding your projection, logic fail, or even your lack of self-awareness.”

            It was your claim. If you can’t back it up, then you can’t. No worries.

            “You are free to live in your delusional world in which Bert and Ernie would sue someone for hundreds of thousands of dollars for not baking them a cake”

            You are free to live in your delusional world that I said that, which I didn’t.

          • WorldGoneCrazy

            The fact that you cannot back up your original claims and now project same on me is no warrant for your original claims. The fact that you lack the self-awareness to admit your fails and projection is no warrant that such does not exist.

            The “meanie” charge stands. Bert & Ernie would be so disappointed in you. 🙂

          • acontraryview

            “The fact that you cannot back up your original claims”

            What original claims are you suggesting that I cannot back up?

            “now project same on me”

            I’m not projecting. I asked you questions about the claims you made. You did not answer them. No projection. Fact.

            “The fact that you lack the self-awareness to admit your fails and projection is no warrant that such does not exist.”

            Again, what fails are you speaking of and what is your basis for saying that I lack self-awareness. Those are your claims. Back them up.

    • Michael C

      Did you just call Bert and Ernie “sacred”?

      • Slidellman4life

        Yep. I already said why. Is there a problem?

        • Michael C

          Ha! Wow. I’m a Henson fan but you really take Muppets seriously!

          You do know that the guy who performed Bert is gay, right?

          • Slidellman4life

            And still not the least bit relevant.

        • acontraryview

          Actually, you never said why you think Bert and Ernie are “sacred”.

          • Slidellman4life

            Actually, you never said why you think Bert and Ernie are “sacred”.

            Actually, I did. Learn how to read.

            Probably not the only one, but probably part of a very small group.

            As your opinion doesn’t mean much since it rarely, if ever, reflects reality, I find that very hard to believe.

          • acontraryview

            Here’s you post: “Am I the only one who is absolutely sickened by the deliberate presentation of Bert and Ernie–two puppets on an iconic television show made for children–as a homosexual couple?

            This is how you know the LGBTQW crowd has absolutely no sense of decency or boundaries. In their warped world, nothing is sacred. And that makes them dangerous.”

            Nothing in there as to why you believe that Bert and Ernie are “sacred”. You may want to take your own advice regarding learning to read.

            “As your opinion doesn’t mean much since it rarely, if ever, reflects reality”

            Examples?

          • Slidellman4life

            The post I am responding to, for starters.

            Go away.

          • acontraryview

            My post was reality. Your post, as I clearly pointed out, does not indicate why you believe Bert and Ernie to be sacred.

          • Slidellman4life

            The reality is my reasons are self-evident. It’s not my problem you do not think there are certain things that should never, ever, be messed with, especially when it is being done as a tool to promote abnormal sexual behavior to children.

            Nope. That’s all on you.

            Again, go away.

    • acontraryview

      “Am I the only one”

      Probably not the only one, but probably part of a very small group.

  • Chrissy Vee

    Good boy. 🙂

  • acontraryview

    I agree with the ruling in this case.

  • sammy13

    Besides the spiritual and biblical obviousness of this, hijacking Sesame Street characters to promote a radical agenda is really low, from a secular point of view. And it is aimed squarely at the children.

  • Red47

    Ireland stands between the citizen and the vicious activists. Bravo.

  • Diaris

    The Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in Northern Ireland are pretty religious compared to other residents of Britain. Thankfully, lots of them stayed there while many immigrated to America in the early 1700s, making a huge contribution to America.