Belfast bakery sued by gay activist loses appeal and must pay £88,000

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

I heard about this story from my friend Jonny in Northern Ireland, who sent me updates about new developments. I didn’t realize that the penalty for disagreeing with same-sex marriage was going to be over a hundred thousand dollars! Especially when, as the article mentions, same-sex marriage is not even legal in Northern Ireland.

NBC News reports.

Excerpt:

A Northern Irish bakery that refused to bake a cake iced with a pro-gay slogan lost its bid to overturn its prosecution for discrimination on Monday as a local court rejected an appeal based on its owners’ Christian beliefs.

Ashers Baking Co in Belfast had been found guilty of discrimination in May last year for refusing to make a cake bearing the words “Support Gay Marriage” and a picture of characters Bert and Ernie from the television show Sesame Street.

The firm initially accepted the order from Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, but later contacted him to cancel it and refund his money. Judge Declan Morgan on Monday ruled the bakery had directly discriminated against Lee.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where same-sex marriage is not allowed, and the largest political party, the socially conservative Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), has blocked attempts to legalize it.

By contrast the Republic of Ireland in May last year approved gay marriage after a referendum backed the measure, signaling a major change in what was once a strongly Catholic and socially conservative society.

[…]Daniel McArthur, general manager at Ashers, told journalists he was disappointed with the judgment, saying it undermined “democratic freedom, religious freedom and freedom of speech”.

Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission, which backed Lee’s case, said it is seeking costs of 88,000 pounds ($108,000) from the bakery, which said it is taking legal advice on what to do next.

The Belfast Telegraph notes that the bakery was not discriminating against a gay person – they did not know what the sexual orientation of the customer was. They simply objected to endorsing a message on a cake that they did not agree with.

Excerpt:

The McArthur family insisted they did not know the sexual orientation of Mr Lee, an LGBT activist, when declining his order.

The family insist their problem was with the cake, not the customer. But Mr Lee claimed it made him feel a lesser person.

However, on Monday morning the Court of Appeal upheld the original decision that Ashers Bakery had “directly discriminated”.

In delivering the appeal judgement, Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan rejected the argument that the bakery would be endorsing the slogan by baking the cake.

He said: “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.”

Lord Chief Justice said bakers couldn’t provide a service only to customers who agreed with their religious beliefs.

[…]After the ruling, speaking publicly for the first time, LGBT activist Gareth Lee said he was “grateful” for the outcome of the appeal.

Mr. Lee had feelings, and the Ashers got a hundred thousand dollar bill (payable to Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission) for hurting those feelings.

Keep in mind always that the Asher family is not just paying Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission. The family is also paying the salary of this judge with the income from their business. They are paying this secular judge from the secular leftist government to punish them for being faithful to their Biblical convictions. That’s why Christians should never vote to enlarge a secular government using money from private individuals and private businesses beyond what the Constitution limits the government to do.

I often hear Christians complain to me about why I am so focused on getting young people to study STEM degrees in school, to get jobs in STEM fields, and to save money and donate effectively.

Premier Christian Radio explains why money matters:

Throughout the legal battle Ashers has been supported by The Christian Institute, which has organised public rallies and garnered financial backing for the case.

Simon Calvert from the organisation pledged the family would not have to worry.

On Premier’s News Hour he said: “We [will] back the family all the way and so the family don’t have to worry about the cost.

“The Christian Institute legal defence fund has got that covered but, you know, that’s going to be a lot of money.”

The organisation had spent £200,000 itself in legal costs, he said.

“It is a lot of money, but Christians are concerned about the state of religious liberty in the UK and they have been willing to donate to our legal defence fund to help us to fight this case and cases like it,” he added.

The money to prosecute Christians came from Christians through taxes, and whatever is left over after taxes is used for the defense of Christians from the secular government. That’s why money matters. And that’s why Christians should not be voting to expand government, which raises tax rates, and shuts off the flow of dollars to organizations that defend Christians in court. It also shows why aliases are practical – the more you can fight the secularists without getting hit and incurring costs yourself, the more money there is for the people who are pinned down by the state and need assistance. You don’t want to be someone who has no money to donate, but asks for others to support you. Have the alias, then earn the money. Then you can donate to others, and not depend on them because you won’t be in legal trouble yourself. This is so simple, but many Christians don’t understand how to think about these financial issues.

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