We’re all familiar with stories here in the United States revolving around business refusing service based on religious belief. Memories Pizza is still fresh in a lot of minds, but there is a more recent turn of events across the Atlantic in Northern Ireland. A bakery recently found itself in court for its refusal to make a cake celebrating gay marriage based on their religious beliefs. The story has been across the news in the weeks following the court’s ruling last month:
Last month, a judge ruled that Ashers Baking Company in Northern Ireland had discriminated against a gay customer by refusing to make a cake with the words “support gay marriage”, along with a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.
Gareth Lee commissioned the cake for an event to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The bakery initially accepted the order but called Mr Lee two days later to cancel.
The Judge on the case found that the bakery committed “direct discrimination for which there can be no justification” and many have agreed with the court’s decision despite the bakery’s claims that they only disagreed with the cake’s message, and not the person ordering it. News.com compares the incident to another in Denver involving a Denver bakery that refused an anti-gay cake and was taken to court for discriminating religious beliefs.
It’s easy to see that this is no simple issue, and one of the bakery’s defenders makes that point much more clear. Many were quick to denounce the bakery and agree with the court, but Patrick Stewart took a position that many found confusing. As he says in the video above, it is the circumstances of their objection that earned his support and not the implications that they hated the person buying the cake:
“Finally I found myself on the side of the bakers,” he said. “It was not because this was a gay couple they objected, it was not because they were going to be celebrating some kind of marriage, it was the actual words on the cake they objected to, they found them offensive.
“I would support their right to say, ‘No, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I [will] not do it.’ But I feel bad for them that it cost them  quid.”
Many immediately took this to mean that Stewart was taking a position against equality and the LGBT community, a thought that is quite odd considering his other thoughts in the clip and friendship with the openly gay Sir Ian McKellen.
But many have taken up outrage against Stewart and forced the actor to clarify his comments in a statement on his Facebook page:
I think if anything, this situation shows that it is not as black and white as many would hope. I don’t believe a person in support of gay marriage would be using that bakery after their decision, much in the same way I wouldn’t see them shopping at Hobby Lobby. The court’s decision is all that really matters at the end of the day, but it is worrisome because what if the tables were turned as they were in Denver? Or what if it was another situation involving race or gender?
The court of public opinion is vast and full of loud voices, so it would make sense that there are a variety of opinions floating around, including Stewart’s. I’m personally a little torn on the issue because it isn’t just as simple as ignoring one side for the other. What do you think?