Businesses across the country are coming out with stances on gay marriage, including Chick-Fil-A and Lakewood's own Masterpiece Cakeshop. The bakery does not create cakes for gay ceremonies.
The decision, publicized by rejected couple Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, made waves across the Internet, where those who object to the restaurant's refusal of service made Facebook pages, wrote Yelp reviews and crafted an online petition decrying Masterpiece that collected more than 2,000 signatures. Over the weekend, more than thirty protesters picketed the bakery with signs reading "Love is sweeter" and "Let the gays eat cake," urging a widespread boycott of the bakery.
"We have just been blown away by how many people have heard our story and the support we've gotten from around the world," says Mullins. On July 19, Masterpiece owner Jack Phillips refused the couple's request for a rainbow-layered cake to serve at their wedding reception. Since Westword blogged about the couple, their story has made it to such media outlets as the Advocate, both national and international. "When we posted [our story on Facebook], we thought that maybe family and friends and one friend of a friend would see it total, but now there's international news," he adds.
But there are no longer many Yelp reviews of the place: In the days following the early outcry against Masterpiece, the site removed input from more than a hundred commenters, who'd brought the bakery's overall score down from a score of four to below a one. The newly created complaints tackled the business's ethics and philosophical beliefs, not the quality of its cakes, and they were largely created by supporters of Craig and Mullins, not people who had not ordered a piece from the shop.
"Unfortunately, they have knocked my review and Charlie's mother's review off as well, even though I sent them a message telling them I had been there in person," Mullins says. In the meantime, protesters against the bakery have turned their negative attention to sites such as Google+ and Voice Places.
On Facebook, pages marked "Boycott Masterpiece Cakeshop" have garnered more than 500 supporters, some of whom helped organize last weekend's protest. But Mullins and Craig have also come under fire from those who support Masterpiece's decision to refuse service. On the "We Support Masterpiece Cakeshop" page , Facebook user Sharon Phillips-Wethington writes, "I created this page because the owners refuse to make a wedding cake for a couple of gay guys who are getting illegally married ... We are here to support them and their Christian beliefs ... We will ask God in prayer to keep this owner and his staff safe from the ultra left liberal who embraces homosexuals. He [owner Jack Phillips] has the right to refuse customers."
Although Craig and Mullins remain focused on their top priority -- planning their wedding in Provincetown, Massachusetts -- they "don't intend to detach from this issue," Mullins says. Last week, the owners of Lora's Donuts and Bakery heard about the couple's story and offered to bake the guys a reception cake for free. (Le Bakery Sensual had also previously offered support.) "They made a point of saying they care about these social issues and this is what they wanted to do," Craig says. "It was the exact opposite experience. We even tried to offer [one of the owners] compensation, at the very least for compensation materials, and he wasn't having it."
Moving forward, the couple hopes to engage with their supporters to convince the bakery to change its policies. But in an interview with CBS4, Phillips said he would close down the bakery before reversing his beliefs -- and serving gay ceremonies.
"At this point, what we really want is for him to understand that his policy is discriminatory," Craig says. "The last thing we want to see is his business shut down. The economy is hard enough already, and we don't wish that on him, but on the news he said that if he was forced to serve wedding cakes to gay couples, he would close his store down. If that happened, we would not feel like that was our fault."
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Craig, Mullins and the community that has arisen around them online will stage a second (and significantly larger) protest against the bakery this Saturday at 11 a.m.