Published On: Mon, May 18th, 2015

Gay Bert and Ernie cake court case nears end

The Ashers Bakery case is expected to conclude tomorrow, with the decision to not make a pro-gay cake featuring Bert and Ernie, being a pivot point on gay rights versus the right of individual to exercise their freedom of conscience.

Northern Ireland’s Equalities Commission brought the case because it said it “raises issues of public importance regarding the extent to which suppliers of goods and services can refuse service on grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief and/or political opinion.”

Ashers, which is backed by the Christian Institute, said that it was “taking a stand” on an issue of religious freedom. It argued that it was not discriminating against someone because of their sexuality but because of the message on the cake. It has won support from many in the community, with rallies and speeches in its favor attracting large crowds.

MLA Paul Givan, backed by other Democratic Unionist members and supported by churches on both sides of the confessional divide, argues that there should be a ‘conscience clause’ allowing people to opt out because of sincerely-held religious beliefs.

Ahead of the judgment, Ashers’ General Manager Daniel McArthur said: “It’s been a difficult and exhausting time for us as a family but God has been faithful to us. And he has given us the strength to deal with this, and we know and trust in him that going forward he will continue to give us his strength.”

Bert Ernie Support Gay Marriage cake photoHe spoke of the comfort the family had received from Psalm 22, saying: “When I’m reading it I’m thinking about what Jesus has been through, and what He’s been through for me and for our family, and I know that if he’s been through that, God in turn will give us the strength to deal with the trials which we have to go through…We do want to say thank you to the thousands of people who have supported and prayed for us, we’re very grateful and certainly your prayers would be much appreciated as we move forward.

“We also would like to thank The Christian Institute for their help during a difficult and exhausting time for us and our family, and we’re thankful to God as well who has been faithful to us through it, and we know that he’ll continue to help us bear this burden as we go forward in the future.”

Gay rights supporters will argue that an Asher victory represents a blow to equality in the province and is a sign that gay people can legally be treated differently from heterosexuals. There’s also potential for confusion and litigation about precisely when a service provided for a gay person can be construed as implying support for homosexual practice.

Lawyers for the plaintiff, Gareth Lee, said that Ashers were being asked to carry out a purely mechanical process which did not imply that they endorsed the message on the cake. Ashers’ lawyer told the court that on that basis a Muslim printer would not be able to refuse a commission to print cartoons of Muhammad, an atheist baker would have to make a cake declaring that God made the world in six days and a gay baker would have to make a cake saying “Gay sex is an abomination”.


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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Normandy says:

    public business means you must serve all-the bigots will lose

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