A local court rejected an appeal from a bakery to overturn a ruling that they had discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to bake a cake promoting support for same-sex marriage… this time in Ireland.
Ashers Baking Co., in Belfast, had been found guilty of discrimination last May after the Northern Ireland Equality Commission brought a lawsuit against the bakery for refusing to bake a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage.”
Ashers argued that it was happy to serve customers of any sexual orientation. But baking such a cake would violate the owner’s religious beliefs because the message on the cake would represent an endorsement of the lifestyle.
“The defendants are not a religious organization,” said district judge Isobel Brownlie on the original ruling. “They conduct a business for profit. As much as I acknowledge their religious beliefs, this is a business to provide service to all. The law says they must do that.”
The appeals court ruled against the bakery as well, saying that Ashers had indeed discriminated against the customer and violated British human rights law.
“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,” said Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan in the appeals court ruling.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not permitted. Activists are pushing hard to legalize it there too. The controversy over the cake, which was first sparked in 2014 when gay activist Gareth Lee ordered the cake, perhaps to test the bakery’s beliefs. The bakery accepted and then canceled the order.
“If you’re a person of faith and choose to trade in the commercial realm, the judge has said that you have a responsibility too,” said Equality commission director Michael Wardlow.
Gays will not stop with trampling the conscience of business owners. In some places, they are already coming after churches. Some laws are bad laws and lead to consequences that violate the conscience rights of Christians and others. But gays are not concerned about tolerating those that disagree with them. They demand equality even in the realm of conscience. Religious freedom, particularly the freedom to live by one’s religious beliefs in the marketplace, will fade away under anti-discrimination laws and equal rights commissions.
“Likewise also, as it was in the days of Lot.” Luke 17:28.