U.K. court sides with bakery; future ruling still awaits in U.S.
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chris Woodward, Billy Davis (OneNewsNow.com)
The highest court in the United Kingdom has ruled in favor of a Christian-owned bakery chain in a case that mirrors similar legal battles in the United States.
The five justices on the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Asher's, located in Northern Ireland, which refused in 2014 to design a cake with Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie and the words, "Support Gay Marriage."
A homosexual rights activist, Gareth Lee, ordered the cake and sued for discrimination, with help from an equality commission, when Asher's refused.
Asher's has lost several court cases over four years, including an appeal, but the Supreme Court announced its decision on Oct. 10.
Lady Brenda Hale, president of the Supreme Court, told the BBC that the court agreed Asher's turned down Lee's order due to the message, not because Lee is a homosexual customer.
The bakery "would have refused to make such a cake for any customer, irrespective of their sexual orientation," Hale said of the court's finding.
"We didn't say no because of the customer," Daniel McArthur, the bakery's general manager, told reporters earlier this year. "We'd served him before, we'd serve him again."
The U.K. ruling suggests its highest court supports the fundamental right of religious liberty, Hiram Sasser, general counsel at First Liberty Institute, tells OneNewsNow.
"Governments should not be able to force people to express a message," he says, "that violates their religious beliefs."
The legal finding in the Asher's case mirrors the claims of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who ran afoul of that state's civil rights commission when his Masterpiece Cakeshop turned down a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Phillips, who won a narrow Supreme Court ruling in June after losing in lower courts, has repeatedly said he has refused to create bawdy bachelor party cakes and Halloween cakes with demonic images.
"I don't discriminate against anybody. I serve everybody that comes in my shop,” Phillips told NBC News earlier this year. “I don't create cakes for every message that people ask me to create."
A second similar case in the U.S. case involves a Kentucky print shop, where owner Blaine Adamson was sued after refusing to create a T-shirt design for a gay pride event. His business has turned down other print orders, such as racist themes and a strip club, that he didn't want to be associated with.
Homosexual rights activists and their legal allies, however, continue suing Christian business owners and keep piling up wins in lower courts with their legal claims of discrimination.
Despite the expectation of a landmark ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the Supreme Court found the Colorado Civil Rights Commission treated Phillips unfairly due to his religious faith in a 7-2 ruling described as "narrow" by legal analysts. That ruling left unsettled the discrimination-versus-religious liberty debate in the U.S. that has swept up bakers, florists, photographers, bed-and-breakfast owners, and even apple farmers.
Sasser tells OneNewsNow that First Liberty is currently asking the high court to review the case of the Kleins, the Oregon husband and wife who refused to create a same-sex wedding cake.
In the U.S. system of government, the attorney says, the judicial branch is where a Christian business owner can go to fight for and demand their religious rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
"People just have to be prepared to slug it out with the government," he says, "in order to eventually, hopefully achieve victory."
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