‘Gay cake’ case family tell how faith has sustained them through legal controversy as they prepare for judgment day in court
The manager of the family-run bakery at the centre of Northern Ireland’s ‘gay cake’ case has told how their faith has sustained them through the controversy of the recent court case.
A judge will decide tomorrow (Tuesday 19 May) if Ashers Baking Company has broken political and sexual orientation discrimination laws for refusing to make a cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
Speaking ahead of judgment day Ashers’ General Manager Daniel McArthur, 25, said: “Our faith is very important to us; it determines how we live, how we bring up our children, how we run our business, how we meet and how we engage with other people in society, so yes we can’t leave it out whenever we go to work in the morning.
“It’s been a difficult and exhausting time for us as a family but God has been faithful to us. And He has given us the strength to deal with this, and we know and trust in Him that going forward He will continue to give us His strength.”
The case was brought by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) with £40,000 of public funds.
The case followed a decision in May 2014 by Ashers to decline an order placed at its Belfast store by a gay rights activist asking for a £36.50 cake featuring the Sesame Street puppets, Bert and Ernie, with the campaign slogan, ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called QueerSpace.
Ashers, owned by Daniel’s parents Colin, 48, and Karen McArthur, 45, 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 violate equality laws in Northern Ireland and alleging discrimination under two anti-discrimination statutes – The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998.
The close-knit family sat together through the three-day hearing in March.
Daniel’s wife Amy, 26, was with him throughout and she will accompany him to court tomorrow (Tuesday 19 May) to hear the verdict from Judge Isobel Brownlie.
The couple have two young daughters, Robyn (correct), aged two, and six-month-old Elia (correct).
Daniel said: “Amy’s always been at my side throughout the whole court case but what I would say, and I know Amy would agree with this, is that we depend fully on God, and God gives us our husbands and our wives in these difficult times to help us through them.
“There’s been many parts of the Bible which I’ve read which have been of great encouragement, but particularly Psalm 22. When I’m reading it I’m thinking about what Jesus has been through, and what He’s been through for me and for our family, and I know that if He’s been through that, God in turn will give us the strength to deal with the trials which we have to go through.
“We do want to say thank you to the thousands of people who have supported and prayed for us, we’re very grateful and certainly your prayers would be much appreciated as we move forward.
“We also would like to thank The Christian Institute for their help during a difficult and exhausting time for us and our family, and we’re thankful to God as well who has been faithful to us through it, and we know that He’ll continue to help us bear this burden as we go forward in the future.”
Ashers was supported by The Christian Institute which funded their defence.
The Institute’s Deputy Director Simon Calvert said: “The McArthurs, like countless other Christian business owners across the country, simply want to live and work in accordance with their Christian beliefs – beliefs which have long had a positive influence on Western culture and history.”