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Christian Baker: No Wedding Cake for Lesbians

Christian Baker: No Wedding Cake for Lesbians

 

Every so often gay rights and religious freedom of confections clash. It’s never pretty. There was of course the Indianapolis cupcake saga of last year where a baker refused to make a batch of rainbow National Coming Out Day cupcakesbecause he was concerned about family values. Now a baker in Iowa has, based on the fact that she’s a Christian, refused to create a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

The couple in question are Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers. They are engaged to be married and are currently busy planning for their June wedding. All had been going smoothly, but when they turned up for a cake taste-testing appointment on Thursday of last week they found themselves quizzed over the nature of their relationship. They were then told by baker Victoria Childress, who runs the bakery from her home, that per her religious beliefs about their “lifestyle” she would not be making them a cake.

FromKCCI.com:

“They came in and she introduced herself, and I said, ‘Is this your sister?’ (She said,) ‘No, this is my partner.’ I said, ‘OK,’ and I asked them to sit down and I said, ‘We need to talk,’” said Victoria Childress, who runs her cake baking business from home. “I said, ‘I’ll tell you I’m a Christian, and I do have convictions.’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you, but I’m not going to be able to do your cake.”

[...]

“I said that was fine and I appreciated her being honest,” Vodraska said.

“I don’t think either one of us knew what to say. We were just shocked,” Sievers said.

Childress said it’s her right to refuse to do the cake.

“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,” Childress said.

A quick scan of the Iowa Civil Rights Act, expanded in 2007 to extend protections on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, says that a refusal of services based on sexual orientation is actually forbidden unless the service provider is a “bona fide religious institution”:

216.7 UNFAIR PRACTICES — ACCOMMODATIONS OR SERVICES.

1. It shall be an unfair or discriminatory practice for any owner, lessee, sublessee, proprietor, manager, or superintendent of any public accommodation or any agent or employee thereof:

a. To refuse or deny to any person because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges thereof, or otherwise to discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, or disability in the furnishing of such accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges.

Childress is a person of faith who, based on her video interview with KCCI.com, appears to truly believe she wasn’t discriminating against the couple. In fact she contends the issue is not about the couple at all but rather her being able to express her religious convictions about their “lifestyle,” and however objectionable we may find that set of beliefs it does appear she never intended to hurt Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers. However, unless she would contend she is a bona fide religious institution, it would seem Childress is incorrect that it is her automatic right as a business owner to refuse to serve the couple.

Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievershave said they found the experience degrading but it is unclear at this time whether they will file a legal suit.

However, what might have appeared to be a rather trivial matter about a wedding cake — and one with an easy remedy: just go to another bakery and spread the word that Childress isn’t providing services to same-sex couples, letting all who find that offensive protest by also not using Childress’ services — has now turned into a civil rights versus religious exemptions battle, reminding us that the question of how far religious privilege should extend is an issue that, we are increasingly finding, can no longer be sugarcoated or skirted.

Related Reading:

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Image used under the MorgueFile user license with thanks to phaewilk.

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186 comments

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2:51PM PST on Feb 11, 2012

Not a very nice lady. She may say that she never intended to hurt the couple, but its pretty obvious that she is way up on her high horse and took the opportunity to toot her own horn there. I mean, she COULD have just told them that she was really overbooked and just wouldn't have the opportunity to fit them in for a June wedding. It IS the busiest month of the year for weddings and bakers and florists and other vendors tell people ALL THE TIME who have June weddings that their schedule is just too busy to fit another client in for that time of year. That happens to heterosexual couples getting married FREQUENTLY. So yeah, she COULD have said that and kept it within a legal stance (because no one is going to force you to do business if you dont have the resources to do so!), no one would have thought it was odd and no toes would have been stepped on......but NOOooooooooooooo. She's gotta go the "My religious beliefs prevent me from acknowledging you as a person....*In annoying lofty voice that lots of fundies use*" This person is a meanie. I rest my case

6:11AM PST on Feb 11, 2012

I hope this couple takes legal action against this sorry excuse, very similar to old arguments which defend racism & nationalism in commerce.

9:01PM PST on Feb 10, 2012

If God is Love then Childress will have a few things to answer for when she meets Him.

8:57AM PST on Feb 10, 2012

(contd) & domestic, it would have presented the better side of humanity. Life is too short to spend your time associating with idiots. An ideal cure to rid us of most of the miscreants would be to fence off an area of worthless territory with an electric fence of enough charge to kill and take all bigoted, prejudiced, fanatical people and dump them in to fight it out then shoot the survivor. Anyone that thinks this country was founded on the rock of freedom and personal religious beliefs needs to look back to the history books.The original settlements here were by 'religious miscreants' fleeing persecution in England but yet when they got here, they practiced the same prejudice here-believe MY way or else.No room for this type of person in my life.

8:49AM PST on Feb 10, 2012

One thing left out of my previous post that I at the time did not consider important, throughout my life, the absolute best friends I have ever had were homosexual.I have an uncle I am closer to than any other of my relatives.I have a cousin in a lesbian relationship which as far as I am concerned is a marriage.All this to say I am versed to this side of the 'argument' and would debate anyone as to whether homosexuality was a 'choice.' @ Mary-a way of better wording my point would have been to say that I am a very cautious person.To paraphrase an unnamed General from history-"You never leave behind a viable weapon that your enemy can use against you."Would you want to take the chance of someone being FORCED to cook for you would not either purposely foul it up or possibly through some misguided vendetta seek to do you harm by having added some 'special' ingredient(s) be it exlax or arsenic? Sorry.I've got a very suspicious nature. As far as your reference to Ms. Parks, although b4 my time by a very few yr, did U hear of the Jasper, Tx incident a few yr ago? There were conflicting marches of the KKK & Black Panthers throughout the area.My answer was pure & simple.Line the route of the march w/alternating white/black and as the 'march' came into their proximity they without word, turn their back to it & interlock arms as a show of solidarity against any and all extremes.Rather than show the world the ridiculous fanatic idiocies carried by the news agencies, foreign

5:30AM PST on Feb 10, 2012

Charles: You say, "...but do not believe it to be my right to try to force others to change." Well and good. I wonder where we'd be today if Rosa Parks, for one, just caved in. After all, she could have found another seat on the bus.

6:13PM PST on Jan 27, 2012

If the baker didn't want to bake the cake that's her business. Why is it when someone stands up to gays and lesbians they all want to sue. Go to a gay bakery. I'm sure there's one somewhere else and if not bake your own damn cake!!!!!

7:35AM PST on Jan 8, 2012

And what would Jesus say? Oh, yeah, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength AND love your neighbor as yourself." I guess then the cake lady would not bake herself a cake if that is loving her neighbor. Religion is a day without Sonshine.

7:08AM PST on Jan 7, 2012

Would she bake a cake for a gangster? I bet she would, as long as he was heterosexual.

7:07AM PST on Jan 7, 2012

Andrew is right.

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