On Wednesday 10th October 2018, the Supreme Court in London announced their decision that the owners of a bakery in Belfast “did not discriminate against a customer by refusing to make a cake supporting gay marriage”. I strongly disagree with this verdict.
Lady Hale, the President of the Supreme Court, said that the couple did not refuse to make the cake because of the sexual orientation of the customer, Gareth Lee, but because of the message on the cake, supporting gay marriage, with which they “profoundly disagreed”. Therefore, the couple, Daniel and Amy McArthur, according to Lady Hale, were within their rights to refuse to bake it because of their Christian beliefs.
There are several things to consider here.
The offending message on the cake, “Support Gay Marriage”, has been described as a political opinion and as a campaign. However, I would argue that marriage equality between any consenting human adults is, or at least should be, a human right. It is a concept not tied to any particular political stance or political party. It is simply a desire to have the same rights as straight people. Therefore, I disagree with such a message being branded “political”. Would we consider the marriage of a man and a woman as political, or merely a fact of life? Why is same-sex marriage any different, or necessarily “political”?
The message on the cake was not harming anybody, nor did it promote violence or death, or other unsavoury happenings. It was simply a message asking for the same rights for LGBT people such as Gareth Lee and myself, to be able to marry a same-sex partner if we wish to.
Would it have been okay if the couple refused to bake a cake that said “Support Interracial Marriage”? That, too, was at one time illegal. No, it wouldn’t be okay. And neither is it okay that they refused to bake this.
Or what if the tables were turned and a gay baker refused to bake a cake supporting straight marriage? I am sure that that would never happen, but let’s imagine that it did. Would the gay baker be given the same right to refuse to bake such a cake? I highly doubt that. Would the idea of “straight marriage” be called a “political campaign”? I highly doubt that.
The couple refused to bake the cake based on their Christian beliefs that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman. As people have mentioned before, it’s funny how Christian values are never brought to light when we’re talking about accepting refugees who are actually being bombed in their homes, but these Christian values are always mentioned when refusing to bake a cake for a gay person.
I believe that if they were real Christians, they would realise that Jesus said nothing against gay people, and that as Christians, they should love their neighbour and be kind to everyone.
The famous gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said: “Although I profoundly disagree with Ashers’ opposition to marriage equality, in a free society neither they nor anyone else should be forced to facilitate a political idea, like same-sex marriage, that they oppose”.
But equal marriage should not be seen as a “political idea”, but a human rights struggle. Secondly, it is not about “freedom of expression”, since the bakers were merely asked to bake the cake, not to hang “Support Gay Marriage” banners in their shop or wear “Support Gay Marriage” t-shirts. The cakes are made for the customers, not for the bakers. I support freedom of expression, but this was nothing to do with that.
I am so disappointed with the Supreme Court. It’s not just about a cake, just as, during racial segregation in the United States, it wasn’t just about a bus seat, or a drinking fountain, or for trans people now, just about a bathroom. It’s about human rights. And not being treated as second-class citizens.