Azucar Bakery did not discriminate by refusing to make anti-gay cakes: Colorado

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Bakery owner Marjorie Silva stands for a photo inside Azucar Bakery. (Ivan Moreno/AP)

The Colorado Civil Rights Division has ruled that a baker who refused to make cakes with anti-gay messages did not discriminate.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Azucar Bakery in Denver, says she got the news on Friday but knows that Bill Jack, a Christian from Castle Rock, Colo., will likely appeal the decision.

“I’m happy that we were not just morally right but legally right,” she said in an interview with Yahoo News. “Hopefully this will lead to a better world where we are friendly to each other.”

In March 2014, Jack asked Silva to make him a Bible-shaped cake with anti-gay messages, such as “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22.” He also wanted the cake to include two men holding hands with a large X over them.

She agreed to make the dessert in the shape of a book but declined to include the hateful content.

Silva has been inundated with messages of support from LGBT people and their allies since refusing to reproduce the homophobic messages.

“About 2,000 of the emails I got were of support. There were four hateful, so that’s not even 1 percent. So it looks like humanity is going in the right direction and things are changing for good,” she said.

The baker, originally from Peru, says she is neither Christian nor gay but has respect for all people regardless of religious conviction or sexual orientation — she simply does not tolerate hatred.

“However you want to worship God [is fine by me]. In the end, he’s the same God for everybody,” she said. “I don’t think he would like us discriminating against each other and hating each other. Now, I haven’t read the entire Bible, but it’s common sense.”

Silva regularly makes cakes for Christian customers to celebrate Christmas, Easter and other spiritual occasions.

Many of her Christian customers have told her they support her actions completely and do not feel Jack’s beliefs represent their faith.

It’s unlikely Jack ever wanted the cakes in the first place. Silva thinks he was just trying to prove a point about the ongoing controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and a recent case of anti-gay discrimination in Colorado.

In 2012, Jack Phillips, an owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colo., cited his faith as justification in refusing to make a wedding cake for Charlie Craig and David Mullins.

The American Civil Liberties Union stepped in to represent the gay couple after they filed a discrimination complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which concluded that Craig and Mullins had in fact suffered discrimination. Phillips is appealing the ruling.  

Mark Silverstein, legal director of the ACLU in Colorado, says Jack cited the same legislation, which forbids discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, religion or sex, to rail against Azucar Bakery.

“This man tried to claim he also experienced a violation of the public accommodations statute but he was not discriminated against because he’s Christian,” he said in an interview with Yahoo News. “They had a policy that they apply across the board; they are not going to make a cake with such offensive, over-the-top language or images.”

Silverstein, who oversees litigation in a variety of civil liberties cases, shares Silva’s doubts about whether Jack was ever a legitimate customer.

“I think it was more like a stunt to make some misplaced point about the public accommodations statute,” he said.

Azucar Bakery has started selling T-shirts that say, “Because God loves everyone … let’s eat cake”; proceeds will go toward the bakery’s legal fees.

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