To start, let me just make this clear. I have nothing against gay marriage. If two consenting adults who love each other wish to enter into a legal union based on that love, why the fuck should I object to it? Live and let live, that’s my motto.
Recently, a bakery in Northern Ireland was asked to bake a cake featuring the Sesame Street characters, Bert and Ernie. The baker agreed to do so. However, an additional request was soon made, to include a message of “Support Gay Marriage”. The baker, a devout Christian, didn’t feel comfortable doing this, as it went against his religious beliefs and so offered the customer a refund on his order. He didn’t refuse to serve the customer because of his sexuality. He didn’t abuse him in any way. He simply declined to endorse a political message that he was uncomfortable with.
Rather than allowing the free market to take its course and simply taking his business elsewhere, the customer decided to take legal action and get the equality commission involved, because his feelings were hurt. This is absolutely pathetic and was almost certainly a set up from the get go. I find it hard to believe that the customer, a gay rights activist wasn’t already aware of the bakery owner’s beliefs. Instead of being the bigger person he has deliberately and maliciously engaged in a campaign of bullying and intimidation against a family run small business, all to draw attention to his cause and to force his own beliefs on others.
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, but this time, I’m seriously starting to wonder. I disagree with the bakers stance on gay marriage, but if the choice is between allowing him the freedom to have his stance, or living in an Orwellian nightmare in which thoughtcrime is punished, I’m damn sure going to support his right to an opinion.
I also can’t help but wonder. If this incident can cause me, a person who supports gay marriage to sympathise more with the other side in this case, what effect would it have on those who are already against it, or those who are on the fence? My guess, it will only serve to radicalise the anti-gay marriage side more, as opposed to winning support for it.
On a closing note, here’s some food for thought. Isn’t religion also protected under the equality commission (I’m just guessing now, as I’m not 100% sure on the laws up North). If so, couldn’t the bakery owner counter sue the customer for discriminating against him based on his religion?