Saturday, January 24, 2015

Christian Activist Claims Discrimination by Pro-Gay Bakery // Bakery Denies Claim

I have written about bakeries who've gotten into trouble -- either legally or just socially -- for refusing to work with same-sex couples on their wedding cakes. It never made sense to me why a bakery would turn away hundreds of dollars from potential customers or why their corporate religious identity never became an issue until gay couples began marrying. It also surprises me that these businesses don't just pull a "I'm sorry, but we're totally swamped at that time" as opposed to "We're a Christian business and reserve the right to refuse your business." But that's just me...

Anyway, there was a story out a couple weeks ago that I never got around to writing about. It involves a bakery in Denver, CO, called Azucar Bakery. I wouldn't say that they are a gay bakery, but they are a business that has made all sorts of wedding cakes -- including wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

About a year ago, a man came into the store seeking a Christian-themed cake, which the business was fine with making. But then things became progressively weirder:
The gentleman took a seat at one of the tables as the team served him free samples and began building his order. He swiped through pics of Bible cakes on the iPad they presented him, and it appeared he’d found the perfect fit. It was only when he produced a leaf of paper from his pocket — careful not to release it to any of the attending employees, but simply brandishing it for them to read before returning it to his pocket — that the order “got a little uncomfortable,” says Lindsay. 

“He wanted us to write God hates …” she trails. “Just really radical stuff against gays.” 

“He wouldn’t allow me to make a copy of the message, but it was really hateful,” Marjorie adds. “I remember the words detestable, disgrace, homosexuality, and sinners."
According to the owner, she was fine with making the cake, but didn't want to do the slurs. But she was willing to make the cake and give him the icing and the decorating tools to craft her own message.

The customer reportedly did not like this compromise and told her that the owner needed to speak with her attorney about this situation before leaving:
A few hours later, however, he was back, asking Marjorie if she’d conferred with her lawyer over the matter. She hadn’t. “I was busy,” she says. “I have a business to run here.”
 
The sweet-toothed patrons in the bakery’s dining room began to take notice of the confrontational man in the lobby and again, Marjorie offered to bake him the cake and sell him the appropriate tools to complete the task himself. Though she thankfully admits their banter never devolved into yelling, she says it’s clear the man was comfortable creating a scene. He left upon request once more, still visibly upset, and Marjorie hoped that was the end of it..

The third time the gentleman entered the store that day, Marjorie called for backup, asking her brother to excuse him... 

“He said, ‘You will hear from me!’ and I got scared,” Marjorie says. “I was worried he was going to follow me — you can tell who I am in our big, pink van.”
So the man ended up filing a complain with Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies, alleging discrimination. She responded by describing the incident and clarifying that she never refused service to the man, but instead only refused to write anti-gay discriminatory language on any cake "in the same manner we would not... make a discriminatory cake against Christians."

It turns out the the man who filed the complaint is a Christian educator named Bill Jack. He has issued the following statement:
I believe I 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.
Azucar Bakery's owner has decided to seek legal council and created a successful GoFundMe fundraiser to accomplish that process.

I was reviewing some of the comments and noticed that another Christian activist is trying to capitalize on this process by setting up his own claim against Azucar Bakery.

That's the difference between these types of complaints. The gay couples are genuinely seeking bakeries as part of their wedding planning process, while the Christians are setting up stings in order to strike down anti-discrimination laws.

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