Crumbs – bakers learn the hard way that when gays want something, the law will give it to them

Maurice Williamson, a splendid fellow in many respects, got offside with the Grumbles on the matter of gay marriage.

During the debate on that subject he set out his opinions in an article in the Howick and Pakuranga Times.

The general flavour from those opposed is the world is about to fall apart if the Marriage Amendment Bill is passed.

Some think its passing will somehow devalue their marriage. I can tell you this now – it won’t.

I’ve had a Catholic priest advocating that I’m supporting something that’s so unnatural – interesting from one who has vowed to be celibate for his entire life.

In the mid 1980s, people claimed the same thing of the homosexual law reform.

At that time some of the most ghastly outcomes were prophesied. Fortunately, none of those outrageous consequences came to pass.

Fast forward to 2013 and some of the rhetoric being bandied around now about the Marriage Amendment Bill is simply absurd.

Let’s boil the Bill down to its simplest form – it will allow consenting gay couples to get married.

You would think from the way some people are carrying on that politicians are trying to make gay marriage compulsory for everyone. We’re not.

Maurice trundled out much the same line of argument during debate on making prostitution legal.

I heard other things in this House during the time of the homosexual law reform that really riled me. They were mainly from my own colleagues—John Banks, Norman Jones, and others. Fran Wilde was told that she would go—she would be history—because she was advocating the “immoral” decriminalisation of homosexuality. She was not actually making it compulsory, she was just decriminalising it. Norman Jones said we would see homosexuals copulating on the side of the motorway as we drove home at night; it is in Hansard—have a look. I have not yet seen one homosexual copulating on the motorway as I drive home.

Maybe not on the motorway. They would get run over, like possums and hedgehogs.

But let’s get real.

First, we liberalise our morality laws, and next thing you find there’s some outfit like the Human Rights Commission trying to engineer new attitudes and behaviours.

A court case in Northern Ireland gives us a pointer to the direction in which our society is being dragged.

A Christian baker refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Result: the bakery has been taken to court by a bully-boy bunch of bureaucrats at the Equality Commission.

Equality Commission?

What is its purpose, if it isn’t to to compel us to be equals even when plainly we are not?

Belfast-based Ashers Bakery refused to make a cake featuring an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto ‘Support Gay Marriage’.

Karen McArthur, one of the owners, gave evidence on the second day of the high-profile legal action being heard in Belfast’s County Court.

Mrs McArthur told the court: ‘I knew in my heart that I could not put that message on the cake.’

Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission took the case against family-run Ashers Bakery on behalf a gay rights activist customer whose order was declined.

The cake had been ordered for a private function marking International Day Against Homophobia last May.

The people who ordered the cake are clearly a very delicate lot.

Gareth Lee, a volunteer member of the LGBT advocacy group Queer Space, claimed he was left feeling like a ‘lesser person’ when his order was turned down.

Mr Lee told the court yesterday that he was left ‘shocked’ and in ‘disbelief’ when Mrs McArthur rang him and told him she would not be processing the order he had already paid for.

Alf admits he had to look up the meaning of LGBT. It’s shorthand for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Clearly this Lee fellow wishes to impose his morality on people whose strong religious beliefs make what he does unconscionable.

Mrs McArthur told the court the problem with the message on the cake was that “as a Christian, I do not support gay marriage.”

Under cross-examination from Robin Allen QC, Mrs McArthur told the court she had been a born-again Christian since the age of seven and ‘sought to please God’ in how she led her life.

She claimed she only took the order from Mr Lee in order to avoid a confrontation.

‘I did not want to embarrass him or have a confrontation in the bakery,’ Mrs McArthur told the court.

Clearly she is a sensitive and caring woman.

For her troubles she and her business are being hounded mercilessly by the Equality Commission, which monitors compliance with equality laws in the region.

Initially it asked for the bakery to acknowledge it had breached legislation and offer ‘modest’ damages to the customer.

But when Ashers refused, the commission proceeded with the legal action.

Robin Allen QC, representing Mr Lee, said the baker’s objection on religious grounds was unlawful.

Claims are being made that a contract was concluded when the order was taken.

But if this is about a breach of contract, why is the commission involved and why is it not a civil case?

Daniel McArthur, Ashers general manager, said the decision to decline the order had been made regardless of the legal consequences.

Even though he was unaware of the ‘ins and outs’ of equality legislation, Mr McArthur said he could not compromise his deeply held Christian beliefs opposing gay marriage.

He said: ‘The reason for the decision was that, as Christians, we just did not feel that putting the message on a cake – gay marriage is clearly in contradiction of the Bible.

‘We felt as Christians we could not put that message on a cake.’

He told the court: ‘We knew the decision in our conscience as Christians was one that we had to make.

‘That’s why I said to mum regardless, as Christians we are bound by what we believe.

‘This is what we are bound to do.’

Alas, he is finding the law may well over-ride his beliefs and his own sense of what is right and wrong.

If good clean-living Christians must do things that are contrary to their firmly held convictions – well, isn’t that compulsion?

Alf looks forward to a chat with Maurice on this matter.

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