I can’t decide whether the issue of cakes making it all the way to the Supreme Court is hilarious, disturbing, or neither. Either way, Religious Freedom for the win, everyone. The Ashers Baking Company brouhaha hit the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court this week, and the ruling went to the bakers.
In 2014, Northern Ireland’s Ashers was sued after rejecting a cake order which required the slogan “Support Gay Marriage,” accompanied by the image of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street (who I met, recently, thanks to the Los Angeles Skirball Center’s Jim Henson showcase).
The order was taken initially, only to be canceled and refunded after the fact.
Ashers was found guilty of same-sex discrimination. The finding was upheld in a Belfast court.
But Wednesday, all five Supreme Court justices flipped the ruling like a card table by an angry outlaw on Bonanza:
“The rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to freedom of expression were clearly engaged by this case. … They include the right not to be obliged to manifest beliefs one does not hold. … The McArthurs could not refuse to provide their products to Mr. Lee because he was a gay man or because he supported gay marriage, but that was different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”
The high court saw the difference between serving a customer respectfully and endorsing an ideology. This is the clear delineation the American Left would do well to understand. Customers should in fact be protected from discrimination — this is true; also true is that the religious conviction of business owners should never be forcibly compromised. The court’s summary does a good job of indicating that middle line.
Co-owner of Ashers, Daniel McArthur, celebrated the victory and its message:
“We’re particularly pleased that the Supreme Court emphatically accepted what we’ve said all along. We did not turn down this order because of the person who made it, but because of the message itself. The judges have given a clear signal today. In fact, it couldn’t be clearer: family businesses like ours are free to focus on giving all their customers the best service they can, without being forced to promote other people’s campaigns.”
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