NORTHERN IRELAND: Trial Begins For Baker In Marriage Cake Case
A legal case involving a Christian baker who refused to make a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan cannot be determined on which side shouts loudest, a court in Belfast has been told. Northern Ireland's Equality Commission is bringing the case against family-run Ashers Bakery on behalf of gay rights activist Gareth Lee, whose order was declined. Belfast-based Ashers, which is owned by the McArthur family, refused to make a cake with an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto "Support Gay Marriage". Opening the case, Robin Allen QC, representing Mr Lee, noted the publicity around the case and highlighted that politicians, church figures, bloggers and others had expressed opinions on the matter. But the barrister insisted the case must be judged on the facts alone. "Law must not be determined by those who shout loudest," he said. Mr. Allen said he was not in court to challenge the McArthur family's faith. "This is a case about commerce and discrimination," he said.Outside the courthouse, the baker (photo above) told the press: "We just didn't want to be forced to use our creative skills to help endorse and promote a campaign message that went against our sincerely held religious beliefs. We are just trying to be faithful to the Bible." (I wonder where they came up with "sincerely held religious beliefs.") The cake flap has prompted the Democratic Unionists party to propose a "conscience clause" bill that would allow businesses to reject LGBT customers. Sinn Fein has vowed to block that bill. The anti-gay Christian Institute is pushing a similar bill in England. The BBC is tweeting from the courthouse and live updates are being added to the above-linked story.
RELATED: Northern Ireland remains the United Kingdom's holdout on same-sex marriage and observers believe this case may further slow the cause.