For Masterpiece Cakeshop, coming out against gay weddings is good for business
Sugar rush: You won't find too many alternative lifestyles at Masterpiece Cakeshop, meanwhile. An online petition condemning the Lakewood bakery for its policy of not working with gay weddings garnered well over 4,000 signatures. And last weekend, for the second Saturday in a row, protesters gathered outside the store in an effort to convince owner Jack Phillips to change his mind. But that's not going to happen anytime soon. "If I didn't have strong convictions about the issue in the first place, it wouldn't have come up," Phillips tells Westword. "None of the protests or anything will change that."
It was just three weeks ago that Phillips told Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins, a local couple, that he wouldn't bake a cake for their wedding reception because he didn't believe in gay marriage. Personally hurt but politically motivated, Mullins posted a brief version of their story on Facebook that same day, and the first article appeared on westword.com the next day. But even as protesters argued civil liberties outside of Phillips's shop last Saturday, fans of his stance made a point of ordering their confections inside. Right now, Masterpiece has four times the business it usually enjoys this time of year. Positive feedback has come to outweigh the negative "100 to 1," says Phillips.
"My stance comes from my belief in the teachings of the Bible; it's not civil rights or constitutional liberties we're dealing with," Phillips insists. "When I do a first-birthday cake, I imagine the baby in the high chair and the family gathering around and smiling, and I feel like I'm a part of that because I contributed to it. But with gay weddings, I refuse to be a part of that."
Mullins says he and Craig have had no contact with Phillips since they heard his initial refusal, walked out of his store and flipped the place the bird. As the date of their September ceremony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, grows closer, they plan to divide their time between activism and wedding plans. Their continued goal is to raise community awareness and convince Phillips to change the store's policy — not to shut down the bakery altogether.
"It's incredible to have people we barely know stand up for us and hug us and be proud of us," Mullins says of this most recent protest. "It's one thing to read people's messages online and see what they're writing on the Internet, but it's another thing to see them stand up not for just you, but for gay rights in general. We hope we can change the way Masterpiece treats people like us."
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