Doubtless you will by now have heard about the gay cake which was the centre of a controversy recently in Northern Ireland. If you haven’t, the story goes like this: gay couple ask Christian bakers to make cake. Bakers refuse on the grounds of their beliefs. Gay couple take bakers to court. Bakers lose.
Now, without in any way supporting the contention of the bakers that gay marriage is un-Christian, I’m still a tad uneasy about the result. Let’s first of all consider the cake that they were going to bake. There’s an image of it here:
What strikes me about it is that the slogan is not, say, ‘Congratulations Bert and Ernie’ (or whatever their names were) but ‘Support Gay Marriage.’ That seems a slightly odd, not to say provocative, thing to put on a cake. OK I know it’s not the same but on our wedding cake we didn’t have ‘Support the Right of Older Women to Marry Younger Men’. So one wonders whether they were trying to provoke a response with that statement. And then, why choose that particular bakers? Were there no other bakers in Belfast? If I was getting a wedding-cake made I’d want it to be done by someone supportive; someone who was happy for me and wanted to share in my joy.
The case hinged on the right of the baker to refuse custom to anyone based on their sexual orientation – and it was decided that they couldn’t. In one sense, that seems fair enough: you wouldn’t support a bar, say, which refused to serve a gay couple. Then again, the bakers could easily have made some excuse. But perhaps they were as bloody-minded as the couple seem to have been, determined to make a stand.
It’s hard to think of an equivalent situation. But I think if I were a bakers and I were asked to do a cake that said – oh, I don’t know – Support Nuclear Weapons or Support the State of Israel, I’d almost certainly refuse. But that’s not the same thing as discriminating against staff in nuclear facilities or being anti-semitic (and let’s not go there just now).
Peter Tatchell, it seems, agrees with me:
And here’s a link to Brian’s blog which got me started on this: