The Christian Right really has become the most boring group of political activists in America. As their battle against marriage equality slides down the slippery slope of failure, they continue to wage war on one of the few battle grounds where they can still amass a few troops: the arena of wedding cakes.
111 Cakery in Indiana made quite a stir when they denied a wedding cake to a man, Mike Stephens, who was planning a reception for himself and his soon-to-be-husband. (Congratulations to them! L’chaim!)
Stephens, like any self-respecting gay, threw a hissy-fit and went to the local news. An unnamed member of the McGrath family, who owns 111 Cakery, posted a message on their Facebook page explaining the following (grammar and spelling errors are theirs):
As artist we must find the inspiration to create something special for our clients. When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme (alcohol explicit in nature) that is in opposition to our faith, that inspiration is not found… Why would you want a cake that is less then inspired for your special event. That is why this week we told a man that requested a cake for a same sex ceremony that it was against our policy but we would be happy to help him with anything else. It was not that we wanted to deny them a cake it’s just tough to create something that goes against your beliefs.
First, let us applaud whoever wrote this post. It is a master class in passive-aggressive tactics. The “hate the sin, love the sinner” argument is often used against the LGBT community to displace responsibility for bigotry, but it has a special layer of sugary friendliness here. It’s okay that you think we’re going to hell! We can still be friends while we’re alive!
However, their logic is interesting: They are happy to serve the public, but only when the public meets their standards of approval. Let’s all live life this way. From now on, we refuse to acknowledge the existence of anyone who: (1) wears Mom jeans, (2) eats at Chick-fil-A because “it’s been long enough,” or (3) listens to the Demi Lovato version of “Let It Go” instead of the Idina Menzel original, and the fact that there even is a Demi Lovato version is almost too much to handle. Nope! Not talking to them. When they play by our rules, we’ll be happy to allow them to walk among us.
This is similar to hotels owned by Christians that denied renting rooms to Jews, which was a common practice well into the middle of the 20th century. Country clubs are still famous for excluding Jews, and there was even an episode of The Golden Girls about it! The Mortimer Club wouldn’t let Sophia’s Jewish friend come to a party! Business owners claim they are simply expressing their religious beliefs, and shouldn’t they be given the freedom of religion?
In America we all have the right to hold our own beliefs, and although we must accept everybody, there is no rule saying we must like everybody. So do we require these businesses to bake the damned cakes, or do we want to know where these bigots are, so we can avoid them? Because who wants a wedding cake that was baked by a gay-hater who may or may not have spit in the batter? Gross.
However, if a business wants to serve the public, they must serve the public. To attract their preferred clients, they could promote themselves as a “Christian bakery,” but that turns the “Christian” label into something hateful that excludes people, and there are lots of Christian bakers who would be horrified at the thought of denying a loving gay couple the chance to have a lovely wedding cake. (…or a wedding, for that matter.)