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Tennessee Bakery Refuses Same-Sex Couple Service for Religious Reasons

Susie's Sweets

Mirroring the Masterpiece Cakeshop case in Colorado, the owner of Susie Sweet's in Tennessee denied a female couple service for a wedding cake.  

The owners of a Tennessee bakery have confirmed denying service to a female couple seeking a wedding cake after the customer, Brandi Ray, posted a text exchange with the owner on a Dickson, Tenn., community Facebook page, according to local station WTVF.

"I really enjoyed our time together and I truly wish you the best but after realizing that your union will be of the same sex, I cannot with my spiritual conviction and beliefs, do your cake!" Susie's Sweets owner Susie Dennison wrote to Ray in a text. "I want you to know in saying that, I do love you in The Lord! Had I known before you left, I would have said something then!"

Ray, who visited Susie Sweet's in Burns, Tenn., with a bridesmaid, posted a screenshot of Dennison's text to the Hip Dickson Facebook page with the caption, "Well cake tasting didn't go quite as planned."

Responding to Dennison, Ray wrote, "I'm sorry you feel that way. Have a good night."

Dennison's husband, Paul, confirmed that his wife's text to Ray was accurate and added that it was only when he read the name under "groom" that he realized Ray was marrying a woman. He reiterated that he and his wife had no hard feelings against Ray and also admitted that it wasn't the first time Susie's Sweets denied service to a same-sex couple, according to WTVF.

Paul Dennison said that the couple feared that if they baked a cake for Ray and her fiancee, others would consider it an "endorsement" of marriage equality.

Last June, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Colorado baker Jack Phillips, who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd, v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which sanctioned Phillips for denying service to a same-sex couple, erred because the "the law must be applied in a manner that is neutral toward religion."

Activists considered it a "narrow ruling" because it applied only to the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's actions. But GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said at the time, "While this decision does not change existing civil rights protections, it leaves the door wide open for religious exemptions to be used against LGBTQ people."

Just hours after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in that case in December 2017, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Donald Trump was OK with the idea of businesses discriminating against LGBTQ people on the basis of religion.

Responding to news that Susie's Sweets discriminated against a same-sex couple, Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, said in a statement:

"Businesses open to the public can make decisions about what kinds of products or services they will provide - but they can't pick and choose who they will serve. All people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, should be treated fairly and equally under the law. When they walk into a business that's open to the public, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Protecting people from discrimination is about treating others the way we want to be treated, and it is part of our constitution's promise of equal treatment under the law for everyone."

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