By James Simons And Nikki Greener-
The Supreme Court has backed a Christian-owned bakery in Northern Ireland which refused to ice a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” in their long battle to clear their name.
The Supreme Court found on Wednesday that Belfast-based Ashers Bakery did not breach discrimination or human rights laws by refusing to make the cake for Gareth Lee, a gay advocate for the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.The high-profile dispute began in 2014 when the bakery refused to make a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage
Mr Lee had placed an order with Ashers for a cake with the slogan “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of two cartoon characters Bert and Ernie in May 2014. The bakery which initially accepted the order , subsequently cancelled it and refunded Mr Lee his money. The Christian bakers said it could not complete the order because the slogan went against the family’s Christian beliefs which only believe in same sex marriage.
Christian owners Colin and Karen McArthur are staunch opponents of the introduction of same-sex marriage, and as such were under no legal obligations to promote a course they fundamentally disagreed with. Backed by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission, Mr Lee sued the Ashers for discrimination under the Equality Act and said in court filings that the “blatant refusal of a service” by Ashers made him “feel like a second-class citizen”.
Mr Lee had previously won his case in the lower courts arguing that the bakery discriminated against him based on his sexual orientation and religious and political beliefs. However on Wednesday the Supreme Court sided with the bakery.
Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, said that the bakery could not — and did not — refuse to supply its services to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage.
However she added that is “quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.” She said that the bakery’s objection was to the message on the cake — not to Mr Lee and added that “the evidence was that the bakers were quite willing to employ and to serve gay people.”
The Supreme Court ruling is similar to another made in Colarado last June where two justices in a 7-2 decision concluded that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission showed an illegal level of hostility toward religion when it found that baker Jack Phillips violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by rebuffing gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig in 2012. The state law bars businesses from refusing service based on race, sex, marital status or sexual orientation.
The court concluded that the commission violated Phillips’ religious rights under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment. The judgment by the Supreme Court today will have future implications in the Uk for all other similar cases that comes before a court. Today’s Supreme Court ruling is fair because the gay couple were free to go to another cake baker to satisfy their desires for the cake they desired.