The owners of the family-run bakery at the centre of the ‘gay cake’ case have expressed their disappointment following the conclusion of the controversial court case.
Ashers Baking Company had been taken to court accused of political and sexual orientation discrimination for declining to decorate a cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
The case, brought by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) with £40,000 of public funds, was decided against Ashers yesterday.
Bakery owners Colin McArthur, 48, and his wife Karen, 45, have now spoken for the first time about the judgment.
Colin said: “We are very disappointed with the verdict that we have come this far and been through so much to find the verdict go against us, but we certainly know that in all things God works in many, many ways and He’s certainly done a work through this here. And we certainly believe that His work will carry on and it won’t end here.”
Karen admitted: “I am a wee worrier anyway, so I have been worrying a lot.
“We are upset that it hasn’t went our way, but people have asked us that before, how will you feel, but it doesn’t change how we feel about God, He has a purpose in it no matter what the verdict was and we believed that from the start.
“It doesn’t change how we feel about God and it doesn’t change anything about why we took our stand, we don’t regret that for one minute.
“And we believe God has a plan for the future and whatever that will be we are happy to be in His plans.”
Firmly-held Christian beliefs
The case followed the McArthurs’ decision in May 2014 to decline an order from a gay rights activist for a cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ and the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group QueerSpace.
Ashers refused to make the cake because it carried a message contrary to the family’s firmly-held Christian beliefs.
But the ECNI launched a civil action against the family-run bakery, claiming its actions violated equality laws in Northern Ireland.
Freedom of expression
The ECNI alleged discrimination under two anti-discrimination statutes – The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998.
The case raises key issues of public importance regarding the protection of rights to freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
The family was supported throughout by The Christian Institute which funded the legal defence costs of the case.
Colin said: “Personally as a family it has been a difficult time with the pressure of the media and the attention that’s been upon us, but we’re thankful to The Christian Institute and to our fellow believers as a body of Christ, that they have sustained us and prayed for us, and we can take great delight that people are supporting us and we’re very, very grateful for that.”
Karen: “As a family it has been a time of close fellowship. It’s brought us so much closer together. We’ve spent a lot of time in prayer as a family and it’s been lovely just with Daniel and Amy being able to do that.
“We’ve just been a great support for each other. And obviously the people round us, our friends and family that have been praying for us, the churches and just people in the street coming into the shop have been amazing. And even our staff, Christian and non-Christian have been unbelievable – really good.
“We’ve really depended on a lot of God’s word seeing us through. Isaiah 43 verse 1 was very good and very encouraging. It was sent by a friend to us, and it’s just saying that, you know, God created us, He formed us, He redeemed us that’s why we’re saved and He’s promised to keep us.
“And He told us not to fear in that verse and it was one of the verses that we did read together on the morning of the trial and we just held on to that.”
The family are considering their options for an appeal.