When the Carmel City Council recently heard from the public about the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, the same example kept reappearing over and over again.
Would the ordinance mean that a bakery would be forced to make a cake for a gay wedding?
Rascia Johnson, owner of Rascia’s Creative Cakes located in the Carmel Arts & Design District, laughed.
“It always seems to be about the bakers,” she joked. “We always seem to be the ones everyone brings up.”
Johnson said has no problem making a cake for a gay wedding and she’s done plenty of them.
“Business owners shouldn’t turn away customers,” she said. “It’s an honor that they chose for you to be part of their special occasion and it’s not for you to judge people.”
Several other Carmel business owners who deal with weddings say they would have no problem serving gay customers. Staff at Classic Cakes, located along 116th Street, has previously said they would never judge anyone who comes through their doors.
Julie Bolejack, owner of Chocolate for the Spirit located on Carmel Drive, said it wouldn’t even be a question or her if she were asked to make desserts for a gay wedding. To her, it’s a yes, and it’s a no-brainer.
Tim Kirk, co-owner of the family-run IndyAnna’s Catering, said he has no problem with the ordinance.
“I would never turn anyone away,” he said. “As long as their money is green, I’m not here to judge.”
Lucy Qi, owner of Lucy Tailor on Carmel Drive, said she would have no problem providing a wedding dress for a gay or lesbian couple.
“We have no problem,” she said. “We work with any bride or with anybody. I’ve done dresses for several lesbian couples.”
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said that he’s proud that there isn’t a problem with discrimination in Carmel, but the ordinance is still necessary in his view. He also said he support the original version of the ordinance. Amendments have been discussed that would exempt businesses from providing services off-site or creating custom products that are deemed profane. That means you wouldn’t be forced to create a wedding cake for a gay wedding.
“If somebody claimed for discrimination under that, it wouldn’t be protected under the law,” he said.
JD Ford, an openly gay democrat who unsuccessfully ran against State Sen. Mike Delph, said he doesn’t support the amendments but he’s often tired of hearing gay weddings brought up as the only example of discrimination.
“This is about more than just cakes,” he said. “This is about employment protections. It’s about housing protections. It’s about making sure people are treated equally on a number of levels.”
Annette Gross, a Carmel resident, had a column published on The Huffington Post site, where she said, “Believe me, this is not about baking a simple wedding cake.”
Jennifer Wagner, spokeswoman for Freedom Indiana, a grass-roots group campaigning for LGBT rights, said she opposes the amendments. She said she’s heard the extreme examples of someone asking for a swastika or profanity on a cake, but she said people can always politely decline those requests.
“I guess I never understood why people have to be so nasty,” she said. “There’s no need to use your religious beliefs to make a group of people feel discriminated against. That’s not what a business owner should do.”
Opponents of the law said it’s wrong to force people to provide services for a gay wedding if that’s against your beliefs.
The Rev. Richard Doerr from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church said he believes the law discriminates against Christians. He said it would be against the Catholic faith to participate in a gay wedding.
The Alliance Defending Freedom sent a legal memorandum to the Carmel City Council saying, “Carmel does not have a problem with discrimination that would justify the addition of the big-government, bureaucratic systems and expenses associated with nondiscrimination laws. Mayor Brainard himself has been quoted as saying that he has never heard of an issue of discrimination in Carmel. This ordinance is simply not needed.”
City Councilor Ron Carter dismissed that legal brief as a “scare tactic,” saying it wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.
Jim Decamp, an activist who opposes the law, said providing a cake for a gay wedding amounts to an endorsement of gay marriage which he believes is against Christian faith.
“Matters of conscience are determined between the believer or religious group, and God,” he said. “For those businesses in litigation, including fines as high as $135,000, there is nothing hypothetical about it. The right to follow one’s conscience, as governed by Scripture, is guaranteed by both the U. S. and Indiana Constitutions.”