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N. Ireland Bakery in Trouble For Refusing Bert & Ernie Pro-Gay Cake

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jul 8, 2014
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Bert and Ernie
Bert and Ernie   (Source:AP Photo)

A Northern Ireland bakery headed by conservative Christians may be in hot water after they refused to make a gay-themed cake involving the classic characters Bert and Ernie from "Sesame Street," the Guardian reports.

Officials from Ashers Baking Company published a statement on its website this week, defending their decision to refuse to bake the pro-gay cake. The company’s general manager, Daniel MacArthur said:

"The directors and myself looked at it and considered it and thought that this order was at odds with our beliefs. It certainly was at odds with what the Bible teaches, and on the following Monday we rang the customer to let him know that we couldn’t take his order."

McArthur, 24, added that the bakery offered a full refund to the customer, who wanted the slogan "Queerspace" on the cake, above the iconic children’s puppets.

Ashers Baking Company was established in 1992, has six shops in Northern Ireland and employs 62 people.

McArthur also told the Guardian that the bakery received a letter from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, a non-departmental public body that "is responsible for implementing the legislation on fair employment, sex discrimination and equal pay, race relations, sexual orientation and disability."

"We thought that was the end of it, but approximately six weeks later we received a letter from the Equality commission," he said. "The Equality commission’s letter said that we had discriminated against the customer on the grounds of his sexual orientation."

The letter apparently says: "In this case the commission has granted assistance to the complainant, and has written to the company concerned on his behalf. The commission will consider any response before taking further action."

He told the newspaper he was "very surprised" by the organization’s letter and asked the Christian Institute for advice on how to handle the incident.

"I feel if we don’t take a stand on this here case, then how can we stand up against it, further down the line?" he asked.

McArthur also revealed this isn’t the first time the bakery refused a customer’s cake request.

"In the past, we’ve declined several orders which have contained pornographic images and offensive, foul language," he said.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The ban, however, is expected to face a legal challenge later this year.

Over the years Bert and Ernie have been on "Sesame Street," many speculated that the two puppets, who sleep in separate beds, are lovers. Last year, the New Yorker’s cover story featured Bert and Ernie embracing as they watch the Supreme Court on TV.

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