Equality doesn’t seem very equal to me

gay_cake

I’m all for equality without question. People should be treated equally, along with their beliefs, views, opinions etc. However, it seems to me that this simply isn’t the case in some aspects of our world. I admit that whilst I am fascinated and interested in politics and current events, I steer clear of writing about them on my blog.

What spurred me to write this is the Gay Cake Row that’s been in the news lately, and the verdict that Ashers bakery have been found guilty of discrimination against their customer for refusing to make a cake that supported gay marriage.

I guess I’m confused here. Yes, a gay customer can request a certain type of cake, nothing wrong with that. But if the owner of the bakery refuses because they don’t believe in gay marriage, then surely that is their right? And by prosecuting Ashers bakery the law is essentially saying “You can have your beliefs, but you must provide goods that go against those beliefs when asked.”

Isn’t that wrong?

Isn’t the gay community being overly sensitive here?

Shouldn’t this be a case of knowing where your boundaries are and leaving it be? You ask for a gay themed cake and are told no for a very specific reason, then surely reasonable logic should dictate that the cake maker has their own views and beliefs and you should respect them? Not force them to adhere to your set of beliefs or values simply because it suits you?

Surely gay rights activists are capable of respective someone else’s views, just as they want others to respect theirs? This ruling smacks of inequality to me.

What if I went into a gay cake shop and asked for a cake to be made that said “I believe gay marriage is wrong because it’s against my religion?” And if that gay cake shop refused would I be able to take them court and win?

Why not? Isn’t it the same thing?

Just for the record those aren’t my views and people should be free to marry who they like.

Take a look at this quote from the Guardian:

But in his summary, David Scoffield QC, acting for the bakery, said if Lee’s argument was right, a Muslim printer could not turn down a contract to print leaflets about the prophet Muhammad, an atheist could not turn down an order saying God made the world and a Roman Catholic printer could not decline making leaflets calling for the legalisation of abortion on demand.
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Ashers’ lawyer said to force any of these individuals or his client to do this would infringe Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the Human Rights Act. “When someone is being forced to promote a cause with which they don’t agree, [it] is taking it a step too far,” Scoffield said.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/30/gay-cake-bakery-discrimination-sexual-orientation-northern-ireland-court-told

I’ve just read the opening sections of Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, and it seems that Ashers cake shop were within their rights to refuse a customer a cake with a slogan that went against their beliefs.

That begs a question – when are equal rights not equal?

Twenty years ago I lived in an area where as a minority I was often verbally abused for being white. When shouted at by a group of people it can be intimidating and scary. To a degree I have an inkling of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of racial abuse, limited though it was.

Let me get this straight, I’m not here to bash anyone or their views in any way. I just find it a little odd that the subject of equal rights is often smeared across the media like a puppet dancing to someone’s tune just because it suits the mood – be that due to political or religious view or for any other trending cause, motivation or hidden agenda.

londonprideparade2014

Take any Gay Pride March for example, though called Pride in London. I’ve never been to one, though I have seen and enjoyed the rich colour and diversity on TV. It pleases me that any group of people can come together to celebrate their unity,  pride, strengths, passions, beliefs etc.

On a side note I think all crossings should be as colourful as the one below, and not limited to a special event!

ridewithpridepicHow cool is that!

But here’s the question – would there be an uproar and big backlash if someone organised a Straight Pride March?

I can imagine the outcry from the LGBT group who could insist such a march be offensive to them in some way. Obviously I can’t be certain about that assumption, but I’m willing to guess such an event would piss a lot of people off.

mobo

Another question – as the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, is held annually in London and recognises artists of any ethnicity or nationality performing black music, then would it be wrong to have a MOWO (Music of White Origin) Award too?

Why not? Both have much to celebrate in terms of musical styles, genres, histories etc.

Am I being naive here?

It seems to be that equality can be a term bandied about by some intent on pushing their cause at the detriment of someone else’s beliefs. Regarding the gay cake issue, if that had been me asking for a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage, and the owners refused, I would have the sense to accept their reason and leave it be.

I had a choice to ask for the cake. They had the choice to refuse.

Arguments and counter-arguments aside, it really should be as simple as that.

Deal with it and move on.

I wouldn’t see the purpose of pursuing it to such great lengths, and at the same time causing undue stress to a business owner. Equality should be there for all, but certainly not at the expense of potentially damaging the reputation of a business or infringing someone’s rights and beliefs.

I question the motives behind the court case. Why would anyone draw such attention to themselves? Was it for money? Fame? Five minutes in the spot light? Did they believe so vehemently in their right to stand up and tell the world about their sexual orientation that they were willing to put a business owner through a shit storm just to have their say?

If you put a different slant on the gay cake row, you could indeed make it look like bullying.

“Do what I want and make my cake or I’ll bully you into accepting that I’m right and you’re wrong.”

Surely any reasonable person would have considered the potential media fall-out from making such a big deal out of nothing. Or was the disgruntled customer led by lawyers hell-bent on raising an issue where one shouldn’t have existed in the first place purely for their cause?

It would be a twist of fate, and possibly irony, if Ashers sued their gay cake ordering customer for loss of earnings due to their business being portrayed as anti-gay.

Thoughts?

I could be wrong here with this post, and would love to hear what anyone thinks. Seriously. This isn’t meant to bash anyone, I’m just confused as to why equality doesn’t seem very equal.

 

 

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7 thoughts on “Equality doesn’t seem very equal to me

  1. First, in regards to “if Ashers sued their gay cake ordering customer for loss of earnings due to their business being portrayed as anti-gay.” They are anti-gay, therefore, they would not be losing gay customers to begin with since that is not their customer. If, by refusing to bake the gay wedding cake, their anti-gay stance is revealed and they lose customers, then it is their beliefs that causes the loss of customers, not the subsequent reveal of said anti-gay stance.

    If they are willing to bake for gay customers as long as it isn’t a wedding cake, then they are hypocrites with their belief since they only claim it when it suits their own agenda.

    As for the rest such as white music awards, someone put it to me like this: As the dominant culture (ie white, straight, male), they are the oppressors therefore, they do not need to create such things as white only music awards since, historically, that is pretty much what has existed already. By the minority (eg black, LGBT, female, etc.) creating their own (“niche”) awards they are trying to show they are equal, no different, and therefore should be included in the previous white-only awards. Until true equality and inclusion is achieved the “niche”, or suppressed, awards will continue.

    Also, just to clarify, I am not suggesting all whites are oppressors, are racist, bigoted, hate filled, etc. You experienced somewhat what it is like to live as a minority, or suppressed individual, as you said and it was frightening. However, overall, you can slip easier back into the dominant white culture as a white male. Just because there is white privilege does not mean there are no hardships or difficulties to being white, it just means that, in general, the rules benefit a white (especially white male) person more-so than anyone else.

    I think part of the reason you do not understand completely is because you do not hold such views yourself, therefore, do not completely understand the difficulties faced by individuals who live every day as a part of a “hated” group. You already see everyone equal. Yes, I do think there is somewhat of a backlash now where the oppressed are rising up therefore have their own bigotry against those they view as dominant (ie all whites are racist asshats, all males are rapists, etc.) but it is to be expected considering how long inequality of all kinds has existed.

    That being said, as much as I despise their beliefs, I do agree that they have the right to refuse service to whomever they choose. I’m conflicted because I’m not sure they should. It is one thing for a small business owner to have such rights but it becomes a bigger issue when larger corporations or institutions refuse service (example, what if a Catholic Hospital refused to treat a gay mother because of religious beliefs). This is only a wedding cake but what about companies such as Hobby Lobby? If you are not aware of the case, it is a US company that went to court saying they have the right to refuse to have their employees health insurance cover birth control (Plan B specifically, they viewed it as “the abortion pill”) because of their religious beliefs. Oversimplifying the case, but you get the idea.

    Ironically, the companies pension plan invests in pharmaceutical companies that make birth control, including “the abortion pill”. So, their religious beliefs extend to controlling their female employees reproductive choices but not in regards to making money. So, again, I’m conflicted because yes, these are examples where companies refusing go against my personal views but if it was someone, say a Jewish bakery refusing to make a birthday cake for Hitler’s birthday, yeah, I’d have to side with the bakers on that one.

    Perhaps it should come down to which side the hate lies? As in, the anti-gay baker hates gays, therefore, they lose, but Hitler customer hates Jews therefore s/he loses? THAT, is the difficulty in figuring all this out, being fair and equal but also trying to change hate-filled, antiquated beliefs. People are people, skin color, sexual orientation, sex [as in male/female 😉 ], even religious beliefs should not matter. Of course, I’m an atheist so if all religion disappeared tomorrow, the world might be a better place!

    Sorry for such a long reply but it isn’t such an easy topic to respond.

  2. Gosh! What a fabulous reply! I owe you thanks Lily! I do agree with you on the point about if a cake maker refuses a service based on their beliefs then it could have ramifications on bigger organisations doing likewise. Decent point I hadn’t considered. I too would side with Jewish bakers refusing to make a Hitler themed cake, but isn’t that hypocritical given that Ashers were held accountable for employing similar beliefs in their business?

    I kind of get where both parties were coming from, I just think the entire thing was blown out of proportion. I do wonder that on the back of this how many other cases might come to light. I do recall one story not long ago about a hotel refusing a room a gay couple on the grounds they were gay, though I don’t think any form of religious belief was cited as the reason for the refusal. I thought that was a bit much, but then I guess by the same token a cake maker should have just baked the cake for a customer without allowing their religious views interfere with business.

    Are white people still seen as oppressors? If so that’s a horrible state to still be in. I guess there are plenty of music awards around that, whilst not technically based on white only music, they are generalised enough to make MOBO awards a niche area. I find it worrying that niche or smaller minority groups feel they have to have something special in order to feel they are equal. I do feel naive in that respect as I figured the world had moved on further than equality still needing to be a sort of battleground.

    Lily, wonderful reply, food for thought indeed, so thanks for giving me your view and expanding my understanding!

  3. Okay, I can see both sides of the argument/discussion here, so I’ll not offer any opinion. Instead, I’m going to ask you both, Dave and Lily, whether you’ve ever come across David McKee’s children’s book “Tusk Tusk”. It is a story about elephants but one which illustrates the human condition perfectly. If you haven’t read it, here’s a summary and analysis of the story. http://sandiemourao.eu/pages/images/Janet%20Evans.pdf

    • Interesting article indeed, Sarah. I guess some will always find a reason to find fault in others and dislike or hate them for it. I get the feeling it’s just too easy to cry inequality these days and stir up trouble where it shouldn’t exist.

      • I feel that we’re constantly walking on egg shells out there in society. It’s exhausting and we writers have to always be so mindful about unwittingly causing offence. This is what bothers me about self-publishing, as I’d prefer to have a literary agent cast an expert eye over my writing, to advise me when I’m getting too controversial before my words are made public and I can’t retract them! I think my most recent novel needs vetting by an expert, anyway.

  4. I found your post quite interesting.
    Whether or not I believe in this way of life, I don’t think it should be advertised and pushed for so hard In the media. I don’t want my kids to see a straight couple making out on the street… And I don’t want them to see a gay couple either. I think that the age of innocence is going.

    And we need to protect our little ones. It’s my right. And I agree with you Mr. Farmer…. This whole free speech has double standards, what we should be discussing is respectful speech. Understanding both sides… Creating excuses and being able to tactfully decline a customer and being able to graciously walk away.. I don’t eat pork.. If someone came into my restaurant and demanded a pork dish it would put me In an odd position.

    Anyway, God bless.
    Sarah

  5. This saddens me. Refusing to serve someone who is gay is refusing to accept them as equal. Hiding behind the guise of religion does not change the fact that a gay customer is different, not equal to, a straight customer in your eyes.

    Perhaps I view this as personal since my brother and cousin are gay. I remember when my brother got married, back in 2007, and had to go to Canada because it was not legal here in the US. They wanted to celebrate their love, just like any young couple in love, yet couldn’t do it in their own country. They, too, were refused service by many businesses who saw them as freaks, evil, equated them with pedophiles, saying they were going to hell and they endured all sorts of vile treatment. All because they loved one another.

    Equating refusal to serve a gay couple with refusal to serve pork, because you don’t eat pork, is not the same thing. Refusing to serve a gay person is rejecting that person as unequal.

    If I ran a book store and refused to serve someone who is Christian, because I am an atheist, would that be acceptable under the free speech idea? It would not be as easily dismissed either, as refusal to serve a gay couple, and many more would leap to the defense of a Christian. I have no doubt that I, as an atheist, would be seen as the bigoted asshole refusing to serve Christians. Not only is it illegal (at least here in the US) to refuse to serve a Christian but it would be considered abhorrent.

    Being gay is not a choice any more than being black, having green eyes, or dark hair. Being religious is a choice. Hell, you can even choose which religion suits you best, switch at different points in life even, but being gay, you are all your life. Just like being straight. So, no, sorry, I do not believe business owners should have the right to refuse to serve someone who is gay. It is not an issue of free speech but an issue of equal rights.

    Also, from an American viewpoint, I too often see the violent side of bigotry against gays (and others like blacks, for example). Even growing up in New York, a progressive city with a large gay culture, I remember my brother being beaten simply because he was gay. I’ve had friends thrown out of the house when they came out of the closet because their parents refused to accept them. Sadly, too often, there are stories of not only beatings and bullying, but suicides because gay kids made so miserable by a world that refuses to accept them as equal. There are also many LGBT people who have been killed simply for being gay.

    Even the comment above, “And we need to protect our little ones”, protect them from what? Is that insinuating gays equal to pedophiles? Or is it a disease, the kids are going to catch gayness? My brother is fantastic with children, all the nieces and nephews adore him, and he often wished to raise children of his own. His kids, if he ever has any, would be raised in a loving, caring home just like my other nieces/nephews.

    I’m rambling now because, as I said, this truly saddens me. It may seem like something simple, don’t cause undue stress to the business owner, just walk away but a gay persons entire life is filled with a stress and sadness simply because they have to continuously justify their existence as equal and deserving of the same treatment as a straight person. That business owner’s refusal, religious based or not, comes from a seed of hatred. A gay couple wanting to marry is a seed of love.

    If a business owner wants to refuse, based on religious reasons, perhaps they should live and work in a closed society like a Mennonite and/or Amish society where their religion dictates the society rules.

    My brother has always been gay. He, like any brother, can be a pain in the ass, can be funny, he is intelligent and caring… in other words, he is human. He isn’t different because he is gay, he’s just like any other person. So, to me, sorry, a business refusing to serve him (and all those defending that businesses “right”) is saying my brother is somehow not as equal, not as human.

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