Halo Halo: Cake, Flowers, Pizza and Jesus

It’s not often the Halo-Halo column takes an interest in the plight of the religiously bewildered in a legal argument, but a few recent court cases, one in Ireland and two in the US, show just how absurd things can get when religion, politics, the legal system and gay rights get tangled together.

In one case a couple of evangelical Christian bakery owners in Belfast were asked to bake a gay-themed cake last year in honour of Andrew Muir – Northern Ireland’s first openly gay mayor. The cake was to be decorated with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie, and to have the message ‘Support Gay Marriage’ highlighted in icing.

Asher’s Baking Company, however, which is apparently named after one of the 12 sons of the biblical patriarch Jacob, refused to bake the cake as the request was ‘at odds with what the bible teaches’, and they were backed in their refusal by the Democratic Unionist Party, including first minister Peter Robinson.

What the bible actually teaches about cake is unclear – there’s a well-known bit about loaves and fishes, but cake hardly gets a mention. However, as far as gays are concerned the message is obviously not ‘let them eat it’.

A complaint of discrimination regarding the bakers was then lodged with Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, and a case at Northern Ireland’s high court followed which at the time of writing, is still in progress. And Asher’s, the bakers, are now ‘a global cause for Evangelical Christians across the world’ according to the Guardian (30 March). Wouldn’t it have been easier just to find another bloody baker?

Meanwhile in the U.S. a Washington florist decided that providing flowers for the wedding of a same-sex couple also went against her Southern Baptist faith. In this case, too, the couple, and the Washington state Attorney General sued her, resulting in her being fined $1,000 and the couple seeking damages and legal fees. However, in this case, the florist has so far raked in over $85,000 from supporters in a crowd-funding campaign.

An Indiana pizza shop, too, Memories Pizza, which, it seems, was forced to close down after coming to the conclusion that pizza should not be served at gay weddings has also netted over $800,000 from supporters.

There must be a lesson there somewhere.


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