Why the Ashers Baking Co Ltd were always doomed, and (I’m sorry to say) deserved, to lose their court case
The judgment handed down on Tuesday this week, in GARETH LEE -v- ASHERS BAKING, is attracting a lot of reportage and comment, much of it dumbed down, or even spiteful.
Yesterday, I was all fired up to take a strident pro-freedom of conscience stance on this case myself, putting me firmly into one of the two opposing camps battling it out in the comments following the various media coverages and blog posts. As I read the judgment, my heart was changed, and my entire stance changed by more-or-less 180 degrees.
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The facts of the case are as follows: An individual ordered a cake, decorated with the slogan “support gay marriage”, from a baking firm whose owners supported the contrary “oppose gay marriage” political lobby. The bakers then reneged on the contract, because, they admitted, they wished (to use the appropriate term) to “no platform” the plaintiff, for reasons of their own lately-discovered consciences. (I have sympathy with them on this.)
The plaintiff sued for discrimination on the grounds of his and their clashing political views. Political discrimination, uniquely in the United Kingdom, is unlawful in Northern Ireland, for particular historic reasons that apply only in those six counties of the United Kingdom. Incredibly, the defendants brazenly tried to deny their political discrimination in their pleadings!
The plaintiff also claimed that the defendants had discriminated against him on grounds of his so-called “sexual orientation”. “Sexual orientation” is a hypothesised biological attribute of an individual said to be the cause of homosexual behaviours. Christians who believe the bible should not believe that “sexual orientation” actually exists, or at very least should believe that it is not the cause of homosexual behaviour. That is because the bible teaches a markedly different hypothesis as to the cause of homosexual behaviour, which is no less “scientific” (i.e. empirically testable) than the much younger “sexual orientation” hypothesis, a social construct that masquerades as an independently measurable biological attribute of an individual human organism.
There was a trial, and the court found that the defendants had discriminated against the plaintiff on both grounds. A certain amount of sophistry went into the reasoning whereby “sexual orientation” discrimination was found to have occurred, alongside the glaringly obvious political discrimination practised by the defendants. Most of the online debate homes in upon this minor detail, ignoring that the defendants would have had to pay damages to the victim of discrimination, even if (as I believe) politics was the only reason for their discrimination. Other comment focuses upon obiter dicta about the bakers’ firm not having been a religious organisation, which might have mattered if the court had found only indirect discrimination, rather than direct.
An intelligent blog post by Archbishop Cranmer about this case is to be found here, but it is sensible to read the judgment itself before commenting.
The way this action was defended was all wrong. The defendants should have admitted liability for their blatant direct discrimination against the plaintiff on the grounds that his political beliefs (“support gay marriage”) were the opposite of theirs (“oppose gay marriage”), but denied discrimination on the grounds of his sexual orientation, which I regard as a quite bizarre finding of fact, as (apparently) does Alasdair Henderson, blogging here.
That would have left the court only with the task of deciding quantum of damages. The defendants could have made an offer to settle the claim out of court for a modest sum of money, on the basis only of political discrimination, not sexual orientation discrimination, which they denied.
This was always a case that the defendants couldn’t win. However, both sides wanted a trial, and publicity, each competing with the other to be the greater “victim”, in the court of public opinion, using trial by media. The Christian Institute paid for this ridiculous show trial.
The Christian Institute, and the Christian Legal Centre, the two main court case political activist groups, need to choose their battles, and how to fight them, more wisely. They could do a lot worse than contacting Gagged Dad, and offering to give him some help with his court case, A v Cornwall.
Neither The Christian Institute nor The Christian Legal Centre is willing to lift a finger to help Gadded Dad, the legally unrepresented claimant in A v Cornwall, and a guest blogger on this blog. Gagged Dad is a father who was told, almost two years ago to the day, that social services would try to ensure that his two year-old son never saw his dad again, because his dad had opposed the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in 2013, and supported calls for the repeal of The Abortion Act 1967.
Social Services has been true to its word. Gagged Dad’s son is almost five now. He was just over three and a half, when last he had a cuddle with his dad, observed by a court-appointed child psychologist. He has lost his dad, because his dad spoke against same sex marriage before it was even enacted in the mainland of the UK, and because his dad opposes abortion.
For legal reasons, Gagged Dad’s identity must remain a secret. But his son’s plight was discussed during my own recent election campaign in North Cornwall. I know Gagged Dad personally. None of those with money to squander on unwinnable “persecution” cases, will give this particular persecuted Christian the time of day. His son is illegitimate, because of Gagged Dad’s past sexual sin, six years or so ago. There is apparently more joy at The Christian Institute and The Christian Legal Centre over one just persecuted Christian who needs no repentance (is “squeaky clean” as Andrea Williams put it), than over ninety and nine sinners who repent. Both activist groups strain at gnats whilst swallowing camels. The Christian Institute has exploited the defendants in this case, who unlawfully set out to “no platform” that “gay cake”, with whom I have every sympathy, even though I can see where they went wrong.
15 responses to “No platform for gay cakes!”
Let’s hope that the current petition from the Pilgrim Fathers, on behalf of FNF will be successful then “Gagged Dad” and the 3.5 million other Dad’s and 300,000 Mum’s, who with their children will not be continuing to be abused when the CAP within the C/F Act 2014 is modified or there is complete new legislation, to enact responsible parity of parenting. Lack of such parity is absolute discrimination!.
With “Gagged Dad” and all other millions of parents who wont be “gagged” because unless their position is proven that they
have enacted criminal abuse against a child they have shown that at that time they are not worthy of being a parent. Otherwise they have aright to engage on Parental Responsibility with their child or children! (Chief Justice, Family Division 22/04/2015).
So will your “Gagged Dad please stop wingeing; will you please tell him that he is not the only parent with deep concerns of being discriminated against. Ask him to Join the cause and help to get millions of signatures for the Pilgrim Fathers petition. A few thousand can be shredded by Cameron’s Arch-Aggressive feminist lackies in government (and opposition and we all know who they are).
Help make history and free all those children from the abuse they live in at the moment.
As a trained Samaritan l have a duty in confidence to remain silent on names but those parents who contact me with overt suicidal thoughts because of being in similar situation as your “Gagged Dad” it beholds us to examine the empirical evidence which FNF have provided in their petition. Some may construe a slight gender bias to the petition, but facts are facts. They are insuperable.
Paraphrasing Sir James Mumby from his 11/14 declarations to the FNF..” Judges don’t make laws….they interpret them.”
It is politicians who make legislation and it is we citizens who can promote legislators to make legislation to make responsible parity of parenting. Action this day…not more complaining from “Gagged Dad”, please.
I have signed that petition myself, tweeted it to my 82 twitter followers, and mentioned it on Facebook to my 137 Facebook friends. Thanks to you, it is now mentioned on this blog, which has several hundred followers, of whom about 170 were members of the House of Commons or the House of Lords when they accepted invitations to follow this blog. I don’t want to bother my UK “targeted individual” mailing list just yet, or the people I go to church with, or other people in my email address book, or on my phone.
I shall speak to Gagged Dad when I next see him.
I cannot make anybody sign the petition. And, as you say, the petition is presenting the issue more gender-asymmetrically than the harm itself sought to be prevented, is gender asymmetric on the ground.
I try not to offend people who self-identify as “feminists”. Have you read my blog post, “Masculism, Feminism and the Euro Tunnel”? My youngest daughter thought it was funny.
The point about Gagged Dad, is that the rationale given by Social Services for siding with the contact denier, was that Gagged Dad was opposed to same sax marriage and abortion, and therefore unfit to deliver care to his own two year-old son. That is far more severe persecution for holding beliefs different from the government’s than having to honour a contract to decorate a “gay cake”. The case is an absolute gift, which both The Christian Institute and The Christian Legal Centre have looked, have refused to become involved with.
Not one of the persecuted Christians whose court cases these two activist groups have taken up, has suffered injustice that even comes close to losing a son or daughter, as a punishment for one’s beliefs. They both have a rum sense of priorities.
John, I haven’t read the judgement yet, but from the way you’re summing it up, it sounds like Ashers was penalised solely because they were in NI, and that it wouldn’t have happened anywhere else in the UK where there aren’t the same anti-political discrimination laws.
I’d like to know a bit more about these laws please. Are you seriously implying that, say, Adams or McGuinness could be legally forced to “bake a cake” (or any other medium of expression) with a “Keep Ulster British” slogan on it?! I find it quite extraordinary to think so; and rather think that if anything, NI is the one part of the UK where laws against “political discrimination” should NOT lead to a result like that! Surely such laws would be there to prevent a Catholic being turned down by a Protestant baker on religious or political grounds – analogous to precisely what Ashers didn’t do.
As such, I find insufficient grounds for you to have turned 180° round from what you were previously planning to blog. I still maintain that this is a free speech issue, *and was obviously so from the moment we first heard about this prosecution*. In this regard the total failure by last night’s BBC Question Time panel to see this, was particularly horrendous and shameful.
Because the case was in Northern Ireland, the defendants were certain to have been found liable for political discrimination, even if they hadn’t been found liable for sexual orientation discrimination, which I consider to have been unjust.
The agenda playing out here is laughable …if it were`nt so damned serious in consequences.
Of all the issues gay marraige or GARAGE as I prefer to term it.. will
prove to be one of The final straws , and bring about thanks to those cultural marxists buffoons , a hell on earth society ..
THEY forget at their peril , that they`ll also have to live in it !!
I’m no legal expert but surely the ‘no political discrimination’ law is to prevent the ‘I’m not serving you, you’re a Republican’ kind of scenario – ie. once again, it’s to prevent a blanket denial of service to an individual based on some aspect of their identity, exactly like the racial and sexual orientation discrimination provisions.
That is not what was happening in this case, the promotion of the message was refused, not the individual identity of the customer, either as a gay man or a pro-gay marriage advocate, so no personal discrimination has taken place.
No free and democratic political dialogue can be possible if an individual can be forced to promote a cause against his convictions, so IMHO this case is indeed a travesty of justice.
That was my first reaction to0. I still can see it that way as well.
But why have both The Christian Legal Centre and The Christian Institute declined to help Gagged Dad, who has lost his son as a punishment as a punishment for his beliefs against same sex marriage and abortion, and whose son has lost his dad, yet have money to spend on cases as relatively unimportant as this, and many that are far more trivial. That breaks my heart so much.
The most annoying thing for me is that the general public perception in Southern England(which is the real base of power in the UK in terms of voting population and finance) is that,”Oh,it’s those Northern Ireland Protestant Christian bigots again,first discriminating against Catholics and now against homosexuals”.
I am from Northern Ireland.
No amount of explanation of the facts seems to persuade them that to oppose homosexual marriage does not necessarily mean you are a bigot and that Mr.Lee was not discriminated against because he was a homosexual.
Mr.Lee is a gay activist carrying out a politically motivated strategy against a family business run by evangelical christians.His strategy to promote homosexual marriage legislation and marginalise christians has succeeded largely due to the narrow minded bigotry, and due to the lack of understanding, of secular English society.
I have great sympathy for this “Gagged Dad” situation.Is he really denied access to his son simply for holding two beliefs on homosexual marriage and abortion????? This requires greater media coverage(oops,forgot for a moment that the media is dominated by the secular left).
Thank you for your comment, with which I find myself in much agreement.
You ask whether Gagged Dad’s son is denied contact with his dad “simply” because his dad is opposed to same sex marriage and abortion. Not “simply”, no. But primarily. This shouldn’t be a factor considered at all. It is very clear that it was the dominant consideration for most of the first eight months. There was some late-in-the-day effort to concoct other pretexts by way of a smokescreen, ensuring that in the family court, Gagged Dad was not facing the case against him that had initially been made, which he had addressed in his own witness statements.
Have a read of “Je suis James”, also on this blog, which looks at Gagged Dad from a completely different angle.
I cannot specifically comment on the case of ‘Gagged Dad’ as I do not know the full background, but in general there is a child welfare concern if there is, or the possibility of, ‘persistent emotional abuse’, which includes ‘conveying to the child they are unvalued or inferior’. There is a (roughly) 5% chance that a child will grow up to be exclusively homosexual, and for such a child to be brought up in an ‘homophobic’ environment – for instance to be taught that homosexuality is ‘intrinsically disordered’, as is the Catholic church’s official doctrine, will almost certainly have a negative impact on that child’s development, (witness the impact of enforced ‘reparative therapy’ on LGBT kids in the US, for instance), just as one might expect in the case of a black kid being brought up by white supremacists. Because sexual orientation develops gradually over time and can be hidden, even if a ‘homophobic’ parent eventually overcomes their homophobia because of their love for their child, there’s still a lot of damage that can be done beforehand. So in issues when the state has an involvement of the welfare of a child, one might reasonably expect this to be taken into consideration. But as I said, I do not know if this is the rationale for the case of ‘Gagged Dad’ – it would certainly be important to know his answer to the question ‘ what would you do if your son turned out to be gay?’, for example. Would he privilege his religious beliefs, which are a matter of choice, over his son’s intrinsic nature, which is not?
Thank you for commenting, Mark.
You make several assertions of a general nature that I have often heard, but which not one single person I have challenged so far has managed to justify. The phrases “exclusively homosexual” and “intrinsic nature” words convey the gist of your essentially deterministic beliefs, which Gagged Dad and I do not share. To engage with me over those assertions, might I please invite you to commenting upon one or other of the following other posts on this blog?
B*ggers CAN be choosers!
Homophobia – the hitherto elusive “gay cure” (by Gagged Dad)
You might also find this blog post by Peter Tatchell thought-provoking:
Homosexuality: it isn’t natural
Thanks for those links, John. I wholly share Peter Tatchell’s views, and in so far as you understand sexual orientation as something formed and shaped by environmental, as well as genetic, factors, then I agree with you too. So when I refer to ‘intrinsic nature’ I am referring at least in part to a response to environmental factors, ever mindful of the fact that these responses vary from individual to individual. As per Tatchell’s article, it is perfectly obvious from other cultures that the majority of men are able to experience and enjoy same-sex desire when suitably encouraged at the right age – and not inhibited from doing so. (I would imagine, as with so many of our other faculties, this plasticity declines with maturity – what we don’t use, we lose). However, equally obviously there is a majority of men also able to experience and enjoy opposite-sex desire. In addition there is a small minority of men – my 5% – who do not respond to the environmental factors that typically produce opposite-sex attraction, and there may be a genetic component to this. These are my ‘exclusive homosexuals’ who would suffer being brought up in an homophobic environment. Finally, there is doubtless the heterosexual analogue of the latter group who cannot experience same-sex attraction even when the environment is benign. I imagine in ancient Crete, this latter group might have had some difficulties……
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case that was run in NI, simply put, the bakery were (unfairly) taken to court for refusing to support something that wasn’t allowed in law – which in fact seems remarkably similar to the case you mention in Cornwall.
There is much I could also say, about the unfairness of taking Asher’s to court. But there are two remarkable DIFFERENCES between Gagged Dad’s Cornwall case, and Ashers’ case in Northern Ireland, where they’d have lost their case anyway, without having been found to have discriminated directly on sexual orientation grounds (which I find ridiculous) for special reasons to do with “the troubles”.
Difference 1: Asher’s were asked to pay £500, for refusing to decorate a cake with a pro-gay political message. Gagged Dad has not been allowed to look his own son in the eyes for more than a year, or to have a conversation with him, because he blogged an anti-gay political message.
Difference 2: Asher’s enjoyed a feeding frenzy of attention from people who share my dream of equality for homophobic people like myself. Gagged Dad’s much more severe persecution than Ashers’ is being almost completely ignored.
Ashers’ has enough support. Gagged Dad needs yours. Do you care, Dominic Stockford? Can you too swallow the camel, after straining out the gnat? If so, join the club. There are millions of armchair activists who support Ashers’, and hardly any who support Gagged Dad. Do I sound bitter about this? You bet your sweet ass I’m bitter about it. So is the good Lord, I posit. Or at least He is disappointed. “By this shall all men know that ye are not my disciples after all. That ye have not love one for another.”
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