‘Gay marriage cake’ controversy

Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:09

Sir, – In her analysis of the recent “gay marriage cake” controversy, Fionola Meredith (“Case of the ‘gay cake’ reveals worrying double standards among liberals”, Opinion & Analysis, July 11th) mischaracterises the purpose of equality legislation, both as it applies in Northern Ireland and the wider United Kingdom. Prohibiting persons who provide services to the public from discriminating on the grounds of gender, race, disability and sexual orientation, does not, nor is it intended to, require such service providers to accept, condone or promote a particular type of lifestyle.

Bakers who disagree with gay marriage are free, both before and after they sell their goods, to maintain their disagreement. What equality legislation does ensure, however, is that historically marginalised groups cannot be prevented from the most basic participation in social life, simply because the majority dislikes the type of person who makes up these groups.

In the 1960s, many service providers in the southern states of the US objected to Title II of the Civil Rights Act 1964 because they said it conflicted with both their personal, and in some cases, their religious belief in the righteousness of segregation. Should these individuals have been exempted from serving African American customers in order to shelter them from a “totalitarian impulse”?

The simple fact is that if Ashers Bakery feels it cannot provide services to large sections of society because the owner’s condemn the lifestyle of those sections, then perhaps the owners should reconsider their choice of engaging in such a public activity. – Yours, etc,

PETER DUNNE,

Castle Avenue,

Clontarf,

Dublin 3.

Sir, – Those requesting the cake could (and should) have simply gone to another supplier.

I will be contacting Ashers and offering financial assistance in defending our Judeo-Christian culture, the cornerstone of our western society. – Yours, etc,

HOWARD HUTCHINS,

Chirnside Park,

Victoria,

Australia.