Sometimes bigotry is just icing on the cake.
A family-owned bakery in Tennessee refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple, citing the owner’s “spiritual conviction,” WTVF reports.
According to WTVF, news about the denial first spread through a local private Facebook group. Shop owner Susie Dennison’s husband later confirmed the details of the transaction to WTVF.
Brandi Ray, who attempted to buy the cake, posted about the ordeal on her private Facebook page. The post included a screenshot of the conversation between her and Dennison.
"I really enjoyed our time together and I truly wish you the best but after realizing that your union will be of the same sex, I cannot with my spiritual conviction and beliefs, do your cake!” Dennison wrote in a Facebook message to Ray. “I want you to know in saying that, I do love you in The Lord! Had I known before you left, I would have said something then!"
“Well cake tasting didn’t quite go as planned,” Ray captioned the post.
Susie Dennison’s husband, Paul Dennison, told WTVF that it was only when they read Ray’s partner’s name on the paperwork that they realized it was a same-sex marriage. He stated that the owners don’t wish Ray any “ill will” that they feel the cake would endorse same-sex marriage, which they oppose. Paul Dennison shared that they have declined to make cakes for same-sex couples before, which has led to taunting and name-calling online.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Colorado baker Jack Phillips, but the decision was a narrow one. Rather than deciding whether or not the state’s anti-discrimination laws extended to the couple requesting a cake, the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission acted with hostility toward Phillips for his religious beliefs.
Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the Tennessee ACLU, said in a statement that businesses can make a decision about the products or services they provide, “but they can’t pick and choose who they will serve.”
“All people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” Weinberg said. “When they walk into a business that’s open to the public, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Protecting people from discrimination is about treating others the way we want to be treated, and it is part of our constitution’s promise of equal treatment under the law for everyone.”
Queer couples in Tennessee have more than just cake shop owners to worry about. In February, lawmakers introduced two separate pieces of legislation that would allow religious adoption agencies to refuse service to same-sex couples.