When does political correctness tip over into legal coercion?

When a Belfast court finds that a baking company founded by a deeply religious family has to bake a cake and spell out in the icing a message that stated “Support Gay Marriage.”

Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company refused to make the cake in May 2014 for gay rights activist Gareth Lee, who asked that the cake feature an image of Sesame Street puppets Bert and Ernie below the motto 'Support Gay Marriage.'

The case has deeply divided Northern Ireland, with religious groups saying the company, which was known to have deeply religious owners, should not have been fined $750 and found guilty of discrimination.

I’m with the religious groups on this one.

The issue of gay marriage has made incredible advances in the past few years as more and more Irish, Americans, British and others begin to realize that stopping same sex couples from marrying was an ignoble pursuit that cheapened the very notion of marriage for everyone.

When two consenting adults fall in love and want to marry few should say they are not entitled to that happiness.

Of course, there will always be those who disagree, which is their right, which is what happened in the Asher bakery case. The bakery is owned by a fundamentalist Christian family.

It makes no sense that a small business should be forced against the owner’s religious beliefs to prepare a cake with a message they deeply and honestly disagree with.

I am personally in favor of same sex marriage, but we have to be tolerant of those who disagree on the basis of their religious beliefs.

Trying to coerce such people to bake a cake with a message offensive to them is similar to what used to be done in the North, forcing nationalists to stand for “God Save the Queen.”

It is both unnecessary and divisive.

Would we be having this argument if the cake said “Up the IRA” and featured Bert and Ernie in balaclavas?

Of course not. Yet the principle to disagree is the same.

The case pits the right to equality with the right to freely run your business as you see fit.

There are bound to be numerous cake shops that would bake the cake with the gay marriage message.

The McArthur family owns the cake shop and they made their point of view clear.

"Like so many others, we just want to live and work in accordance with our religious belief. We know we have done the right decision before God and we have no regrets about what we have done.”

I may disagree with them on gay marriage, but I support their right to hold their opinion and do not feel they should be coerced by a court to act against their own beliefs.

 

Equality Commission says ban amounts to discrimination after refusal to make Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie cake.