By Alex Temblador
Most of us are aware of the Sweet Cake controversy but here’s a little recap: same-sex couple Rachel and Laura Bowman-Cryer were denied a wedding cake request by the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Melissa Klein and Aaron Klein. The Kleins refused based on a “religious beliefs” claim, that their religious beliefs did not allow them to bake a cake for a gay couple’s wedding, even though Melissa Klein had urged them to seek the bakery’s services if they ever decided to marry. The refusal to bake a cake turned into a court case and an Oregon judge ruled that the “Kleins bakery was not a religious institution and, had found that the couple had discriminated against the Bowman-Cryers by refusing to bake their cake.”
It’s a story that has been in the news since 2013. Bowman-Cryers were awarded $135,000. Despite this court award, the Kleins received over $500,000 through a fundraising campaign which put a damper on the LGBT discrimination victory that the Bowman-Cryers had just recently won. However, it seems that the Sweet Cake controversy may end with a long-term victory for the LGBT rights movement, one that will overshadow the controversy and bring about something great and positive for the LGBT community in the wake of discrimination.
A new fundraiser is appropriating the name, “Sweet Cakes” in honor of an amazing venture. The campaign, called “Sweet Equality Cakes,” is a fundraising campaign being put on by Planting Peace. You may know Planting Peace because they built the famous, “Equality House,” a rainbow-colored house that “serves as the resource center
for all Planting Peace human rights and bully prevention initiatives” and is situated directly across from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.
In response to the Sweet Cakes discrimination case, Planting Peace decided to turn the tables and bring more good from this case. They are raising money to build a bakery…in the same neighborhood as Sweet Cakes by Melissa…and the bakery is going to provide job training for LGBT homeless youth! Check it out in the words of Planting Peace:
“This incident sparked the dialogue about businesses refusing services to the LGBTQ community. We find the idea of rewarding bigotry silly and shameful, so in response Planting Peace, in partnership with Rachel and Laurel, is going to turn this negative message into something Sweet for LGBTQ homeless youth.”
“Planting Peace invites you to buy a virtual cupcake. All funds raised will go toward creating a “Sweet Equality Cakes’ bakery in the same area where Sweet Cakes by Melissa was located. Sweet Equality Cakes will use the bakery to provide job training for homeless LGBTQ youth.”
Huffington Post spoke to Planting Peach President Aaron Jackson about the new fundraising venture:
“The world has so much hurt in it, and it’s a shame that people are putting their resources toward a campaign that sends such a negative message to society. Consistent with our response to negative acts by anti-LGBTQ groups, our goal with our counter-campaign is to turn this into a positive act and message for LGBTQ youth.”
And we think it will send a positive message to LGBTQ youth and the LGBT community. It will bring jobs to one of the highest populations of homeless youth and teach them about food preparation, management, and customer service, an education in business that they could use toward a brighter future. It will show that LGBT discrimination by businesses is never okay, even in a country where every other characteristic is protected besides sexual orientation and gender identity. Furthermore, it will bring a boost of morale to the Oregon LGBT and ally community.
They’ve raised over $4,000 so far. So go buy your virtual cupcake today, because equality never tasted sweeter.
See how Planting Peace created the Equality House:
Feature Photo by Asmaa Dee