The Weird New Gay Rights Battleground: Bakeries

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A homophobic bakery in Arlington, VA has a message for would-be lesbian cake-buyers: You can't have your cake and eat her too.

According to a story in The Advocate, a lesbian only identified as "Sarah" attempted to buy a cake for her partner on their anniversary. It was supposed to read: "Happy Anniversary Lindsey! Love, Sarah." When Sarah went to pick up the cake, however, it said this instead:

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The Advocate
No ballons for sinners!

"Lesbian Anniv. No [sic] Ballons." No ballons? Sir, if you are trying to send a homophobic message, at least make it clear what that message is! 

Upon receiving the cake, Sarah was understandably appalled, not just because of the anti-gay message, but also because it wasn't remotely like the cake she ordered, and asked to speak to the manager. The manager purportedly apologized for the sloppy text but "refused to address the cake's messaging, even when Sarah pressed the issue." 

"It's disappointing to know that when I want to honor the most important person in my life, I have to worry about some intolerant person ruining the surprise I had planned," Sarah told The Advocate.

Sarah is not alone. On top of the other gay food boycotts we told you about recently, Sarah's story is one of many bizarre incidences involving homophobic baked goods in recent years.

Oregon's Sweet Cakes by Melissa came under fire after owner Aaron Klein turned away a lesbian customer who wanted a wedding cake. Klein argued that same-sex marriage conflicted with his religious beliefs. "I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God," Klein said. "A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife... that to me is the beginning of a marriage." Sounds pretty kneady, doesn't he? Well, Klein is going to need to cling pretty hard to his wife now, since his public homophobia caused their business to go under earlier this year.

Also in Oregon, Fleur Cakes refused to provide cake services to a same-sex couple, again citing religious beliefs. Despite those beliefs, Fleur Cakes was more than willing to provide baked goods for other un-Christian celebrations, such as divorces, out-of-wedlock baby showers, stem-cell research, non-kosher barbecues, and pagan solstice parties.

In Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to make cupcakes for a lesbian commitment ceremony. As an experiment, that same customer called the store and asked for a quote on a wedding cake for two dogs. Masterpiece had no problem with that.

In Indiana, Just Cookies wouldn't make an order of rainbow cookies for an LGBT student group at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis. The owner didn't think it was best for his "two young, impressionable daughters." We know what he means. We too have spontaneously changed sexual orientations at the sight of a colorful cookie.

In 2011, Iowa baker Victoria Childress refused service to a lesbian couple at their pre-wedding tasting. Similarly, Childress cited her religious beliefs and freedom of speech as a justification for denying the couple. "I didn't do the cake because of my convictions for their lifestyle. It is my right as a business owner. It is my right, and it's not to discriminate against them. It's not so much to do with them, it's to do with me and my walk with God and what I will answer [to] him for," she told KCCI. We're not sure how providing baked goods to gay people violates anyone's pact with Jesus, but if you feel that way as a business owner, you probably deserve to lose customers, as well as dough.

It should be noted that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under Oregon law, Iowa law, Indiana law, and Colorado law, though Virginia doesn't have anti-discrimination laws in place. In all of the cases where legal action has been taken, the bakeries have lost, and in the cases that are ongoing, the state has sided with the same-sex couples who complained. Despite stories like these getting a rise out of us, it's clear that the law is firmly on the side of equality, and bigoted business owners are going to have to learn that that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

Follow @annapulley on Twitter. She'll tweet you right.


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