Denver's Azucar Bakery wins right to refuse to make anti-gay cakes

Christian man wanted cakes with anti-gay messages

DENVER - Colorado's legal battles between religious freedom and gay rights continue to play out in the not-so-sweet arena of bakery cake requests.

Last week, the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that Denver's Azucar Bakery did not discriminate against William Jack, a Christian from Castle Rock, by refusing to make two cakes with anti-gay messages and imagery that he requested last year.

Click to view the decision

The dispute began March 13, 2014 when Jack went to the bakery at 1886 S. Broadway and requested two cakes shaped like bibles. He asked that one cake have the image of two groomsmen holding hands in front of a cross with a red "X" over them. He asked that the cake be decorated with the biblical verses, "God hates sin. Psalm 45:7" and "Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:22", according to the Civil Rights Divisions' decision.

On the second bible-shaped cake, Jack also requested the image of the two groomsmen with the red "X". He wanted it decorated with the words "God loves sinners" and "While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Romans 5:8."

He told the civil rights agency he ordered the cakes with the imagery and biblical verses to convey that same-sex marriage is, in his words, "un-biblical and inappropriate."

Marjorie Silva, the owner of the bakery, told Jack that she would make him the bible-shaped cakes, but would not decorate them with the biblical verses and the image of the groomsmen that he requested. Instead, she offered to provide him with icing and a pastry bag so he could write or draw whatever messages he wished on the cakes.

Silva told the civil rights agency that she also told Jack her bakery "does not discriminate" and "accept[s] all humans."

Jack told the civil rights agency the bakery treated him unequally and denied him goods or services based on his religious creed, Christianity. He said he found this "demeaning to his beliefs."

Silva denied that she discriminated against Jack, saying she refused to make the requested cakes solely because the writing and imagery were "hateful and offensive."

Or as Silva told 7NEWS in January, "If he wants to hate people, he can hate them not here in my bakery."

The agency's decision found that the baker did not discriminate against Jack based on his creed. Instead, officials state the evidence shows Silva refused to make the cakes because the customer's requests included "derogatory language and imagery."

The baker said "in the same manner [she] would not accept [an order from] anyone wanting to make a discriminatory cake against Christians, [she] will not make one that discriminates against gays," according to the decision.

"The evidence demonstrates that [Silva] would deny such requests to any customer, regardless of creed," the civil rights agency's decision stated.

"We were not morally right but also legally right," Silva told 7NEWS on Saturday. "It's been a roller coaster. I had so much support and I'm so thankful."

The decision noted that Silva is Catholic and her six employees include three Catholics and three who are "non-Catholic Christian." It also stated that Azucar Bakery's website states that it makes cakes "for every season of the year," including the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter. Photographs on the website include cakes decorated with Christian symbols and writing, including cakes with cross decorations and the words "God Bless." One cake was decorated with "Mi Bautizo," Spanish for "my baptism."

"I find it offensive that the Colorado Civil Rights Division considers the baker's claims that Bible verses were discriminatory as the reason for denying my claim," Jack told 7NEWS on Saturday.  "I find it offensive that the legal director of the Colorado division of the ACLU called the Bible verses on the cakes obscenities.  Especially at this time on the church calendar -- Holy Week -- I find it offensive that the Bible is censored from the public arena."

Jack said he is in the process of filing an appeal with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region, a civil rights organization that says it fights anti-Semitism, prejudice and bigotry, issued a statement on Friday supporting the ruling:

"The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region welcomes the determination of the Colorado Civil Rights Division (CCRD) that there is no probable cause to support a finding that Azucar Bakery treated unequally or denied goods or services to a customer based on the customer’s creed, when the bakery declined to include derogatory language and an image of a same-sex couple on a cake. ADL supports our state's anti-discrimination laws that promote an inclusive and respectful Colorado," said Scott L. Levin, the ADL's regional director.

This is not the first time the state of Colorado has waded into a bakery-related civil rights dispute.

Last year, the Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that another bakery, Masterpiece Cake Shop in Lakewood, could not refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, calling it discriminatory.

Some anti-gay activists who say they want to expose hypocrisy are ordering "Gay Marriage Is Wrong" cakes from gay-friendly bakeries.

"I was sick and tired of Christian businesses being attacked by homosexual groups," said Theodore Shoebat, a self-described "militant Christian," told 7NEWS in January. He said he called 13 businesses last year ordering cakes.

Print this article Back to Top