The five justices on United Kingdom’s highest court unanimously ruled in favor of the Christian owners of a Northern Ireland bakery who were accused of discrimination by a gay customer who wanted the shop to create a “Support Gay Marriage” cake featuring “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie, BBC News reported.
What’s the background?
Gay rights activist Gareth Lee sued Ashers bakery for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and political beliefs after the shop’s main office in County Antrim in 2014 refused his cake request because his same-sex marriage slogan was “inconsistent” with the owners’ religious beliefs, the network said.
But Ashers noted that its issue was with the slogan and not Lee and insisted it would have refused the same order from a heterosexual client, BBC News said.
“We didn’t say no because of the customer; we’d served him before, we’d serve him again,” Ashers’ general manager Daniel McArthur said in May, the network noted. “It was because of the message. But some people want the law to make us support something with which we disagree.”
What did the Supreme Court say?
Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, agreed in Wednesday’s ruling that the bakers didn’t refuse to fulfill Lee’s order because of his sexual orientation, BBC News said.
“They would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation,” she added, according to the network. “Their objection was to the message on the cake, not to the personal characteristics of Mr. Lee.”
How did the gay customer react to the ruling?
Of the so-called “gay cake” case, Lee said it had made him feel like a second-class citizen and that he’s now concerned about “the implications for all of the gay community,” BBC News said.
“To me, this was never about conscience or a statement,” he added to the network. “All I wanted to do was to order a cake in a shop.”
Quite the pricey cake
The legal battle lasted four-and-a-half years and cost nearly $660,000 so far, BBC News reported, adding that questions will now be asked as to whether the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which supported Lee, was right to spend more than $330,000 of public money on the case.
The legal bill for Ashers bakery was $264,000, the network said, adding that it was footed by the Christian Institute, a charity and lobby group.
And the actual cost of the cake that started the controversy?