An openly gay British journalist is speaking out in defense of Christian bakers in Northern Ireland who were found guilty of discrimination for declining to make a cake that included the message “support gay marriage” on it.
In an op-ed published Monday, Telegraph reporter Neil Midgley said, despite being gay, he’s “horrified” that the owners of Ashers Baking Co. lost an appeal to their discrimination case.
“As a gay man, I’m horrified that Christian bakers are being forced to surrender their beliefs,” Migley wrote.
Before I continue, allow me to give some quick background on the Ashers case: The McArthur family, which owns the bakeshop, declined to make the cake in 2014 for an LGBTQ activist named Gareth Lee.
In addition to including the “support gay marriage” message, Lee reportedly also wanted the cake to have a logo for his organization QueerSpace and an image of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie hugging.
When the McArthurs declined, Lee complained and Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission launched civil actions against the bakery, with a judge ruling in May 2015 that the bakers discriminated against the activist based on sexual orientation, according to U.K.-based group Christian Concern.
The bakers were fined hundreds of dollars in damages for causing “injury to feelings,” as TheBlaze reported.
Ever since, the owners of Ashers have been pushing back, but this week they lost their appeal, with a judge upholding the discrimination claim against them.
“I am a gay man. I support equality under the law for people of all sexual and gender inclinations. More to the point, I love cake,” Migley wrote. “Nonetheless, I’m siding with the Christians. This gay plaintiff is wrong; the law is wrong. Nobody should be forced by law to bake anybody else a cake. Ever.”
The journalist went on to say he believes money is being wasted on the case — money that could go to far better causes. But beyond that, he believes some important democratic ideals are at stake.
Migley explained how equal rights for gays had been achieved by persuasion that resulted from the exercise of free speech and free association, saying that the LGBTQ community, over time, persuaded people and legislatures to change their minds on gay marriage. That said, they didn’t rely on the “force of law” to make that happen, he said.
The journalist said he believes it’s wrong for a minority to be discriminated against when its views don’t align with the “prevailing political consensus.” And though he personally disagrees with the Christian beliefs of Ashers Baking Co., he defends their rights to live out their faith.
“I don’t want any business to discriminate against gay people. I wish the McArthurs would abandon their silly religious views and bake cakes for everyone,” Migley wrote. “But freedom of religion must surely be respected alongside freedom of sexuality and, as a gay man, I vehemently support the Christian bakers’ right not to bake pro-gay cakes.”
Watch the bakers discuss their stance below:
Daniel McArthur of Ashers Baking Co. said he and his family are considering legal advice as they move forward in deciding how to respond to their latest court loss.
“We’ll have to take advice from our lawyers about whether there is a way to appeal this ruling,” he said. “In the meantime, other businesses will have to take advice about whether they can refuse orders that conflict with their consciences. Or whether they too may be coerced into promoting other people’s views.”
Despite admitting the cake battle has presented some difficult times for their family, Amy McArthur, Daniel’s wife, said in an interview with Sky News this week that their faith has carried them through.
“God has been our rock,” she said. “He’s really used this time to strengthen our faith in him.”