Saturday, October 9, 2010

CupcakeGate Continues!

As the story has further developed since the initial story hit, there have been several points made by those who believed business owners have a supposed right to discriminate against the LGBT community. I'd thought I'd address a few counter-points. I suspect many of these same points, or similar ones, will be made if the General Assembly tries to push through a Marriage Protection Amendment in the 2011 session.

First, if the owner didn't say, on camera, that he declined a special order due to his own moral values, this would be a non-story and we wouldn't be talking about it.

One of the talking points of the past couple weeks is "it's Just Cookies, not Just Cookies and whatever!". Apparently, those espousing this talking point was made by those who have never visited Just Cookies. They had several non-cookie baked goods when I walked by on Monday, and their page on the City Market's website says they make cookies and "sweets" and take "special orders." So at the very least, asking for a rainbow decorated cookie or cupcake is not beyond reason. Several comments left on blogs have described getting special orders, including cupcakes. While one of the owners in the initial story says that they flat out don't (usually) take special orders, I'm betting they can make just about any baked good if they really wanted to.

Another group of apologists emerged in the form of the religious right. The Indianapolis Star's practice, when covering a story on LGBT issues, is to have the "other" side of the story be told by the religious right, which is done in the Star's story by Micah Clark. Clark is the head of the American Family Association of Indiana and was a speaker at this summer's National Organization for Marriage rally in downtown Indianapolis. Clark, completely ignoring the Human Rights Ordinance that he opposed several years back, offers legal assistance to Just Cookies. Clark believes that this type of legislation makes "special rights" rather than enforce equality. As someone who is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, I find this believe absolutely disgusting.

Not to be outdone by Clark, this video-blog from a local minister mentions that several people were out in support of Just Cookies' discriminatory action, and he even thanked them. According to the minister, one of the owners gladly accepted the thanks. Another blog account, which seems to have several posts that heavily focus negatively on race, religion, and sexual orientation, can be found here. I guess a sure-fire way to drum up business is to come out against the gays.

Finally, a few of the authors of the Human Rights Ordinance wrote a Letter to the Editor in The Star today explaining why Just Cookies didn't violate the ordinance. Gary Welsh explains precisely why they're wrong. I'd like to add that the HRO uses similar language in describing a "public accommodation" as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Democrat, like City-County Council representative Jackie Nytes, might want to be careful in what she says. This puts her in the same company as candidate for the U.S. Senate Rand Paul, who got into some hot water when he said that he doesn't fully support the Civil Rights Act and the ADA due to the regulations they put on privately owned businesses.

I also think it's quite ridiculous that the Council keeps passing laws that they have no intention of enforcing, but that's for another topic.

A couple of people from Indiana Equality also signed the letter. Indiana Equality has come under criticism from both Welsh and Bilerico Project founder Bil Browning on their respective blogs. It seems to me that Indiana Equality still might not have the best interests of the LGBT community at heart.

A big deal over a small incident? Maybe. Some, shielded by Internet anonymity, have suggested that the LGBT community should "get over it" and it's no big deal. I say otherwise. I bet the owners of Just Cookies could've made this all go away with a phone call apologizing, and a nice gift basket of baked goods and some coupons. While Just Cookies might experience some new business from the "family values" crowd for a few weeks, the people who see this incident in a negative light will tell their families and friends for months, even years.


  1. It's a private business that shouldn't be forced to serve anyone. It's called capitalism. You don't like a business or their product, don't use it. If what they did was so terrible enough people will stop using the business and it will close.

    Go cry somewhere else over a real problem.

  2. Ok, Anon 7:45, why should tenants be able to violate the terms of their lease?

    Your issue is with the law that requires it? Go get yourself a lawyer.

  3. Same with the civil rights act and the ADA. Like it or not, that is a fringe position and won't make it far in the realm of the legal courts or public opinion.


Please see the Indy Student Blog Policies page for the full policy on blog comments. Verification of comments by typing in a random word is required to prevent spam. Due to recent blog inactivity, comments are now pre-screened to prevent spam advertisement.