Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a bakery that refused to make a cake celebrating same-sex marriage for a gay customer.
Ashers Baking Co. is a Christian, family-owned company based in Northern Ireland that declined a request in 2014 to make a cake decorated with the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie alongside the words, “Support Gay Marriage,” saying it would violate their religious beliefs.
Bakery owners Amy and Daniel McArthur appealed to the high court after lower courts ruled the action discriminatory.
Judge Brenda Hale said because the objection was based on the message requested to be placed on the cake, and not on the personal characteristics of the customer, the bakery was within its rights to object.
“This conclusion is not in any way to diminish the need to protect gay people and people who support gay marriage from discrimination,” she said during today’s ruling. She added that it is “deeply humiliating, and an affront to human dignity” to deny someone service on the basis of their sexual orientation, but stated “that is not what happened in this case.”
Gareth Lee (above), the would-be customer who placed the cake order, told the BBC the refusal made him “feel like a second class citizen, and the judgement today tells me that’s okay.”
“To me, this was never about conscience or a statement. All I wanted to do was to order a cake in a shop,” he added, noting he is concerned for the precedent this sets for the LGBTQ community.
Last year, Ashers Baking Co. also refused to make a cake celebrating a gay couple’s engagement, although they decided not to sue.
Earlier this year, in a similar case, U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of baker Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop in a narrow ruling that argued his religious objections weren’t give a fair hearing when he objected to making a cake for a same-sex wedding. While that leaves the opportunity for the core constitutional issue to still be decided, the court has since gained yet another conservative justice in Brett Kavanaugh.