The Bert And Ernie Marriage Equality Cake Controversy Plus A Look At The Muppets’ Gayest Moments

facebook-red-marriage-equalityA bakery — make that a Christian bakery — in Northern Ireland is currently entrenched in a legal fight over their right to refuse to bake a cake with a pro gay marriage message frosted to the surface.

After initially accepting the order at their Belfast branch, Asher Bakery’s higher-ups decided that a cake with Bert and Ernie that read “Support gay marriage” falls outside the moral guidelines of their fine baking institution.

It’s a debate we’re no strangers to in the States, with the law seeming to favor a business’ right to refuse service to a customer based on “religious beliefs.” Pat Robertson even went so far as to spout a line of demented logic that Jesus would never bake a gay wedding cake. Thanks for settling that, Pat.

Asher Bakery contacted the customer and told them they’d have to go elsewhere to get their gay Muppet cake.

Then they received a letter from the Equality Commission accusing the company of discrimination and threatening legal consequences if proper recompense isn’t made.

For the record, Muppets creators have repeatedly stated that Bert and Ernie are not, in fact, gay.

Though, Family Guy had a different take:

As did The New Yorker when if published this cover last year:


And if you go all the way back to Bert and Ernie’s 1969 Sesame Street debut, it’s easy to see where the confusion comes from. Here, Ernie calls Bert into the bathroom to bring him a bar of soap, telling him to just “toss it into old Rosie here.” Hmm.

Still, the show stands by the assertion that the Muppets not only aren’t gay, but have no sexual orientation at all. Except in this Glee parody, it’s pretty clear that a gay muppet can (and does) exist:

All of which has nothing to do with a cake in Northern Ireland, but who’s counting?

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  • hex0

    The UK supreme court (formerly house of lords) has already ruled on this (the whole christian rights trumps immutable sexual orientation argument). As far as I know NI has the same/similar protections based on sexual orientation. Getting sick of these self-righteous christians, when you open a business to the public you must abide by discrimination laws.

  • hotshot70

    remember how some of the original muppets were called the “anything people”, because Gordon (or one of the live actors) would put them together. Some boys, some girls, but you didn’t know until the wigs were on. Could they have been the first “drag muppets”?

  • stranded

    I thought you couldn’t make a cake with a trademarked character in it anyway?

  • dazzer

    @hex0: You’re exactly right about the Supreme Court’s take on this – and the European Court of Human Rights, too.

    However, it gets a little more nuanced. In Northern Ireland there are incredibly strong legal responsibilities on all businesses to be neutral. After the Troubles, part of the Peace Agreement was that you can’t discriminate against anyone politically.

    And Asher’s Bakery (which is no small concern – it has several shops and provides baked goods to supermarket chain Tesco’s) is in deep doo-doo, legally.

    It could possibly make an argument that it wasn’t discriminating on the basis of sexuality (which I doubt it would win in any court case), but it has absolutely nowhere to go in NI law when it refuses something on a political basis – and no matter how long or hard they or their lawyers or Christian Concern argue that the bakery’s decision is religious, that’s not going to fly in NI courts or the Supreme Court or the ECHR or – even – in the European Court of Justice.

    If every male member of the family that owns the bakery, went to a drug-fuelled, drunken gay orgy of totally undiscriminating men, they’d still leave it less fecked than they will feel by the time the legal system has finished with them.

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