Thursday, January 15, 2015

Stopping an anti-gay smear BEFORE it gains power

Today comes news that a pro-lgbt cake shop in Colorado is being sued on the grounds of religious discrimination.

But all is not what it seems. According to The New Civil Rights Movement:

If you want a wedding cake, the Azucar Bakery in Denver wants to make one for you. Gay, straight, they don't care. A walk through their Facebook photos shows a vast assortment of cakes and desserts, which may be one of the reasons owner Marjorie Silva (photo above) won an award for Best Wedding Cake at the 2012 Colorado Chocolate Festival. Recently, an older man walked into the bakery and asked for a bible-shaped cake, which was "no problem at all," Silva tells OutFront. In fact, she says she makes Christian-themed cakes "all the time."

The man pulled out a piece of paper with the words he wanted written on the cake, but he would not hand it over.

"He wanted us to write God hates …" one of the employees, Lindsey, told OutFront. "Just really radical stuff against gays."

"He wouldn’t allow me to make a copy of the message, but it was really hateful," Marjorie says. "I remember the words detestable, disgrace, homosexuality, and sinners."

"I told him that I would bake the cake in the shape of a Bible," says Marjorie. "Then I told him I’d sell him a [decorating] bag with the right tip and the right icing so he could write those things himself."

"He told me I needed to talk to my attorney about this," Marjorie adds, saying he then left the bakery, only to return a few hours later, to ask if she had contacted her lawyer. She had not. Lindsey says she thinks the man "was looking for trouble, and describes him as "being really pushy and disruptive."

Silva has since been notified by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) that a discrimination complaint against the bakery has been filed. In the response to the complaint, Lindsay wrote that the man "wanted an open book with the words 'god hates homosexuality' and a 'no' sign over two men. He also wanted a scripture and the Ghostbusters logo."

This man doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. The bakery didn't refuse his service even when the owners felt what he wanted to put on the cake was offensive. And it even offered to sell him a cake bag so he could do the writing himself.  It's clear that the man was looking for a reason - however unjustifiable - to sue. I cringe to think how far he would have taken it if the bakery had agreed to decorate the cake.

Now reasonably, this would be the end of it. However,  add an anti-gay network of bloggers, organizations, and fake news sources, you have the recipe for an homophobic cause celebre which would flood the airwaves and state Congressional halls with cries of anti-Christian persecution before the truth even has a chance to put on its shoes.

Think I'm being paranoid. Don't be so sure. It's happened before.

In April 2005, Massachusetts parent David Parker was arrested for trespassing when he refused to leave his son’s school, Eastabrook Elementary, in Lexington, MA. He was angry that his son, who was at the time in kindergarten, was sent home with a “diversity book bag.” He objected to a book in the package because it showed a child in a same-sex household.

Parker contended that the school was encroaching on his right as a parent to talk to his son about issues of sexuality. He met with school officials and was arrested when he refused to leave after the meeting. He claimed that any mention of same-sex parents constituted a talk of human sexuality and that Massachusetts law guaranteed that he could opt his child out of the discussion. Parker also claimed that school officials were not giving him assurances that this would happen.

Before anyone could ascertain the truth about the situation (which leaned towards  being a stunt pulled by Parker and a local anti-gay group), anti-gay groups, religious right figures, and various conservatives (including Bill O'Reilly) spun the story into that of Parker being a courageous parent attempting to keep his child from being indoctrinated.

Parker ended up suing the school district and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court where he lost. However, the damage was done. Organizations, particularly the National Organization for Marriage, would later use Parker's case on several occasions to claim what would supposedly happen if marriage equality became legal.

So you see, truth sometimes means nothing if you have a bullhorn loud enough to drown it out.

That's why it's important that the lgbt community don't allow itself to become blase or jaded when it comes to incidents like what happened today in Colorado.

It's ugly to contemplate but it is a fact. You let your guard down even a little bit and anti-gay groups will swoop in to take advantage.

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