A bakery owner in Northern Ireland, who refused to provide a cake that promotes homosexuality, must now decide whether to make a final appeal.
Daniel McArthur, owner of Ashers Bakery, learned Oct. 24 that the Court of Appeals ruled he illegally discriminated against homosexuals.
Ashers refused to create a cake (pictured above) with a "Support Gay Marriage" slogan, and an image of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie.
The request was made by a homosexual rights activist identified by BBC News as Gareth Lee. The bakery has served Lee in the past, Arthur told the court, but he turned Lee down because of the cake's message.
That business decision mirrors other ethical situations, such as a Kentucky print shop that refused to print t-shirts for a homosexual pride event. A judge ruled last year that Blaine Adamson and Hands on Originals had turned down other orders that conflicted with his religious beliefs and therefore ruled in his favor.
The Human Rights Commission in Lexington sought to punish Adamson, and the Ashers' case was similarly prosecuted by the Northern Ireland Equality Commission.
More recently, bakery employees at a Wal-Mart in Georgia refused to bake a "Blue Lives Matter" cake because they considered the theme racist. A second Wal-Mart store in Louisiana refused a Confederate flag-themed cake requested by a customer.
The next decision for McArthur is to drop cakes from his business or make a final plea to the Supreme Court, says Dr. Sharon James of the Coalition for Marriage.
"This Christian business would not do anything to compromise their beliefs," she says of McArthur and the family-owned bakery. "They've stood firm all the way through this."
Meanwhile, says James, the McArthur family has won the respect and admiration of others during the two-year legal battle.
"Who disagree with their religion and disagree with their beliefs," she says, "but say that they should have the right to follow their conscience."
The decision of the appeals court, meanwhile, is that there is no such right.
"The fact that a baker provides a cake for a particular team, or portrays witches on a Halloween cake, does not indicate any support for either," the Appeals Court claimed in its ruling, the BBC reported.
Praising the Appeals Court decision, a spokesman for a homosexual rights group said ironically that "faith is important but faith cannot set aside equality legislation that has been long sought."
The senior judge accepted that Ashers didn't know Lee was homosexual and therefore didn't discriminate against him due to his sexual orientation. But the court insisted the bakery should have approved the cake's message anyway.
"Which is even more alarming," says James, "because the law is being used to force people to endorse a message with which they disagree."