‘Gay cake’ couple share highs and lows of last 4 1/2 years
• Amy McArthur: “We’re feeling great”.
• Daniel McArthur: ‘It’s an amazing result. The judgment carries so much weight’.
• Couple agree the case was worth it, despite the hurtful lies told about their family.
The couple at the centre of the landmark free speech ruling in the ‘gay cake’ case have spoken out about some of the highs and lows of the last four and a half years.
Last week the UK Supreme Court ruled that Ashers Baking Co had not discriminated on grounds of sexual orientation, religious belief or political opinion in declining to decorate a cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’.
Judges unanimously agreed the bakery had objected to the message and not the messenger.
The protracted and costly legal action had been brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
Shortly after the dramatic 5-0 ruling, Ashers’ General Manager, Daniel McArthur and his wife Amy spoke to The Christian Institute who have backed them throughout the long-running case.
In the interview they admit that the lengthy and highly public nature of the case has taken its toll. But recognising the importance of the case for others and comforted by the knowledge that they hadn’t done anything wrong, the family kept going.
More than that they are eager to speak of how God and the prayers of many Christians around the world have sustained them.
Daniel McArthur said: “People ask you ‘was it worth it, going through all this?’ and I answer them ‘absolutely yes.’”
“To get a unanimous decision, that we were in the right all along, that we hadn’t discriminated, was an amazing result and glory to God for it.”
“We’ve had letters from nearly every continent in the world. We’ve had emails constantly coming in and we’ve had hundreds of customers come into our shops and telling us that they’re there because they support us in the stand we’re taking.”
Amy added: “A lot has changed for us over the last four and a half years, we’ve had three new additions to the family, so life has definitely got busier. But God has been good and brought us through the challenges that have come with the court case.”
Mr McArthur concluded: “This all started over four years ago and we find ourselves here at the very end of it and it’s only by God’s goodness and grace that we are here and we give all the glory to Him.”
The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Staff and Communications, Ciarán Kelly said:
“One of our most important jobs is to help protect Christians’ religious freedom by creating significant national precedents.
“We count it a privilege to have been able to do this alongside such a gracious and dignified family.
“The manner in which they have conducted themselves over the last four and a half years is testament to the grace and mercy of God.”
On Wednesday the UK Supreme Court ruled that Ashers’ objection “was to being required to promote the message on the cake. The less favourable treatment was afforded to the message not to the man.”
“…the bakery was required on pain of liability in damages, to supply a product which actively promoted the cause, a cause in which many believe, but a cause in which the owners most definitely and sincerely did not…by being required to produce the cake they were being required to express a message with which they deeply disagreed.”
Ashers Baking Company went before the Supreme Court in May in a bid to overturn a 2015 judgment that it had broken political, religious and sexual orientation discrimination laws.
Belfast County Court ruled against Ashers, run by Christian family the McArthurs, for declining an order to make a £36.50 cake with the campaign slogan ‘Support Gay Marriage’ for a gay rights event because it conflicted with their deeply-held religious beliefs.
The Court of Appeal in Belfast upheld that decision in 2016.
• The case follows a decision in 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 cake was for a campaign event calling for same-sex marriage to be introduced in Northern Ireland.
• The customer also wanted the cake to feature the logo of a Belfast-based campaign group called QueerSpace. Ashers refused to make the cake because it carried a message contrary to the firmly-held Christian beliefs of the owners.
• Ashers Baking Company has been assisted by The Christian Institute, a non-denominational national charity which since 1991 has been working on issues including religious liberty, marriage and the family.
• Ashers Baking Company Limited was set up in 1992 by Colin and Karen McArthur, who are the owners and directors.
• The McArthurs’ son, Daniel, is the company’s General Manager. All three are Christians. They have previously refused other cake printing orders which included pornographic pictures and offensive language, since they clearly conflicted with the teachings of their Christian faith.
• The legal action against Ashers Baking Company has been funded by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland – a taxpayer-funded public body with an annual budget of over £5 million.
• The ECNI claimed the company’s actions violated equality laws in Northern Ireland and alleged discrimination under two anti-discrimination statutes – The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 and The Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1998. These claims have now been comprehensively rejected by the Supreme Court.
• The ECNI website states: “The Commission supports the introduction of legislation permitting same sex marriage including sufficient safeguards for religious organisations”.
• The Northern Ireland Assembly has rejected five attempts to redefine marriage since October 2012.
Notes for editors:
• Watch the video of Daniel and Amy McArthur, recorded 10 October 2018
• Read Daniel McArthur’s statement outside the Supreme Court
•Read the summary Supreme Court judgment
•Read the full Supreme Court judgment
• Watch a video of Daniel and Amy McArthur speaking about the court case. Recorded Feb 2016. As featured on BBC One – ‘The Battle for Christianity’: https://youtu.be/-Y4-pmnF2L8
• Read a fact sheet with more details about the case:
• Read a March 2018 briefing explaining what was at stake in the Supreme Court ruling: https://www.christian.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Ashers_Briefing.pdf
• Read Aidan O’Neill QC’s legal opinion on the case: