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N. Ireland Bakery Refuses to Apologize for Denying Gay Bert and Ernie Cake

N. Ireland Bakery Refuses to Apologize for Denying Gay Bert and Ernie Cake

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A Christian-owned bakery in Northern Ireland that refused to bake a cake adorned with the Sesame Street pals and the words 'support gay marriage' has been ordered to make things right.

The antigay Christian owners of a bakery in Northern Ireland have vowed to defy a court order requiring them to pay damages and apologize to a customer they refused to serve because he ordered a cake with the words "support gay marriage" and an image of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie on it, according to The Telegraph.

Framing the issue as a fight between David and Goliath -- with Asher's Baking Co. as David -- the company's general manager, Daniel McArthur, said it was acting on divine authority.

"This is what God would want us to do," McArthur told The Telegraph.

Asher's Baking Co. operates a chain of stores in Northern Ireland. After the Belfast shop first refused the order, placed in July by LGBT activist Gareth Lee to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, McArthur pointed to the religious views of the owners in the shop's defense, noting that marriage "has not been redefined" in Belfast.

Indeed, Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where marriage equality is not yet the law.

After an investigation into the incident, Northern Ireland's quasi-governmental Equality Commission found that Asher's had unlawfully discriminated against Lee on the basis of religion, politics, and sexual orientation, among other factors. The taxpayer-funded Commission is responsible for preventing and correcting instances of discrimination on such grounds.

On Wednesday, the Equality Commission issued a 16-page letter ordering the bakery to pay for Lee's emotional strife and apologize -- or be sued.

"This letter ... is to be understood as a letter of claim which, in the absence of both an immediate acknowledgement that there has been an unlawful breach of the equality laws set out above and an unconditional offer of adequate recompense to Mr. Lee, will be followed by litigation," it reads.

Simon Calvert, deputy director of the Christian Institute, which is helping Asher's Baking Co. fight the charges of unlawful discrimination, said he is "baffled" by the case.

"It is simply baffling for a body supposedly working for equality to be threatening a Christian family with legal action, all because of a cake," Calvert told The Telegraph. "The Equality Commission has taken four months to dream up new grounds on which to pursue the McArthur family, claiming that they've breached political discrimination laws."

But despite the threat of legal action, McArthur intends to stand his ground.

"We're continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it's biblical, we believe it's what God would want us to do," McArthur told The Telegraph. "And we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it'll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage."

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