In stark contrast to last week's positive marriage-equality news in Ireland, a chain of bakeries in Northern Ireland has decided to fight on with an appeal to last week's court's ruling that Ashers Bakery unlawfully discriminated against a gay man.
"This is direct discriminaton," wrote Judge Isobel Brownlie in her ruling, "for which there is no justification."
According to Belfast Live, the bakery refused to bake a cake featuring the pro-equality message: "support gay marriage." One of Ashers Bakery's owners and founders, Karen MacAruthur, claims to have only taken the order to avoid embarrassment —knowing all along that the order would not be filled.
One of the reasons the cake Lee ordered from Ashers made headlines because it was to have featured an image of the muppets Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street. Rumors of a gay relationship between the fictional muppet roommates have persisted for some years.
The Rainbow Project's director, John O’Doherty, told Belfast Live that his Belfast-based LGBT advocacy group welcomed the ruling against Asher Baker.
The judge in the case "...cut through the noise surrounding this case to address the facts," said O'Doherty.
"Ashers agreed to make the cake. They entered into a contractual agreement to make this cake and then changed their mind. While sympathetic as some may be to the position in which the company finds itself; this does not change the facts of the case," O'Doherty told Belfast Live.
Daniel McArthur and his wife, Amy, the Christian owners of Ashers, vowed they would not close their company and were defiant after the ruling, telling reporters: "We will not be closing down, we have not done anything wrong."
Ashers Baking Co. operates a chain of stores in Northern Ireland which deliver cakes across the province and to the UK. The Belfast shop at first accepted the order placed in May 2014 by LGBT activist Gareth Lee, to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Then the shop refused to make the cake, claiming it conflicted with its owners' religious views. On May 19th, the court ruled the refusal was antigay discrimination.
The Northern Ireland Equality Commission brought the case against Ashers on behalf of Lee.
Northern Ireland remains the U.K.'s last bastion of marriage inequality. A rally is planned in support of legalizing same sex marriage next month.