Tonight, while watching the news, I saw a story about a local bakery in Indianapolis, 111 Cakery, who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. "As artists, we have to find inspiration to create something special for our clients," said the owner. "When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme that's in opposition with our faith? It's just hard for us. We struggle with that. There is zero hate here. This causes us to do a lot of soul searching. Why are we doing what we do? We want to show the love of Christ. We want to be right with our God, but we also want to show kindness and respect to other people."
After the news clip, I honestly didn't think much about it. A similar incident happened in Indianapolis in 2010 with a college gay/straight alliance attempting to buy rainbow cupcakes for their group but were denied by a different bakery. It seems these kinds of stories are every day affairs here in the Midwest. But after perusing Facebook, I noticed that this story continued to pop up all over my news feed. People were outraged by this bakery's refusal to make the wedding cake for a gay couple in defense of their religiosity.
It made me think back to my own wedding in August of 2011. Alex and I chose to get married at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada. The young woman, Angela, who worked for The Cosmopolitan and helped plan our wedding never once made any comment about it being a "gay" wedding. In our discussion of music, flowers or timing of the ceremony, there was never any discussion of religiosity or any hardship made about our wedding being any different. It was simply a wedding.
All of our family and close friends were present and my father gave me away while Alex's mother gave him away. His best friend was his best "woman" and my cousin Caroline was mine. While it wasn't a typical wedding, it was ours and it was special. I can't imagine having that moment ruined in any way by having to defend my being gay or wanting to have something special.
I'm not a big believer in protesting establishments who refuse gays' rights to services based on religious beliefs. I think they have a right to their beliefs. I'm not God and they can do as they choose. But this is much deeper than wedding cake.
Yesterday, my cousin Caroline called me and told me she had received an email from her son's school about an 8th grader who had died. She said the email was vague but after she talked to her son, he told her the boy was gay and he had died from carbon monoxide poisoning. I could tell Caroline was moved to tears as she told me she just didn't understand. It started an interesting conversation between the two of us about my coming out when I was 18 and why suicide was never an option for me. Looking back, the fact of the matter is, I'm not really sure.
Both of my parents were completely supportive of my coming out, especially my father who told me he knew I was gay by the time I was four. My mother took it a little harder. Although completely liberal, she really struggled with news of my being openly gay. She told me she was afraid for me. "I'm afraid of how society will treat you," she said. And the truth is that society has not treated me too shabbily.
For example, when I fill out any paperwork, "gay" or "partner" is nowhere to be found on these sheets. I'm not allowed my husbands social security and I'm not protected under law to have to testify against him. We can't file joint taxes. We can't share the same name unless we legally petition for that right. We don't have rights to each others' retirement or Medicare benefits. We're not considered next of kin. We don't get inheritance rights. There are few exceptions to these laws and if you don't believe me, please research your facts. I did. This doesn't count the numerous gay jokes I've had to tolerate over the years from straight friends who turn to me and say, "I'm just joking", or the feeling of making someone else comfortable about my being gay because they just can't handle it. Or the sneers I get when I speak publicly. Or even when someone thinks I'll like a television show just because it has gay characters. The list goes on and on. Society has been very, very kind to me.
I live in a state that has made it clear the government does not want gay marriage legalized, including firm support from our own Governor who is supposed to support the people, not his own personal beliefs, or so I thought. I looked up the word governor in the dictionary and here's what I found: a person charged with the direction or control of an institution; society. Well... I guess he does have that right. He has the right to control my life. And now, a bakery has refused the right to a gay couple to have a wedding cake from their establishment based on their religious beliefs.
I've always been confused by this whole Christian train of thought about homosexuality. In fact, I typically refuse to get into any kind of conversation about it because quite frankly, it doesn't affect me. I have a personal relationship with God and I do not believe that any God out there gave me life to condemn me to eternal damnation. I just cannot for the life of me fathom that being the case. And even more, when told I'm a sinner by these people, I'm perplexed why they don't invite me to their church or try to talk to me compassionately instead of treating me with total condemnation. Or is it fear?
All I know is that an 8th grade boy, who will now never have the chance to get married, gay or otherwise, is dead. And there are many just like him. They die, not from being gay, but from not feeling they have a chance. And what are we teaching them?
That they don't. We're sending them distorted messages with all this crap about religiosity, legality and business.
Simply put... it's about love.
Whether you're a baker, a groom, a governor, or just a simple old writer like me, that wedding cake cuts both ways. And it cuts deep. We're no longer at a point where we can continue to have discussions about gay marriage being right or wrong. That conversation is over. This is life or death. Decide what side of the knife you're on because time is ticking and future bakers, and even possible governors, are giving up on life.
I hope your refusal of a piece of cake is that important to you.