The McArthur family has sent a message of thanks to thousands of supporters in Northern Ireland who have backed them through the ‘gay cake’ court case.
Last month the Ashers Baking Company lost its case in the Court of Appeal in Belfast which rejected the firm’s appeal against a ruling which said that the business broke the law by declining to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage campaign slogan.
In May 2015, District Judge Brownlie ruled that Ashers Baking Company broke sexual orientation and political discrimination laws.
The McArthur family, who own and run Ashers, turned down the order because it conflicted with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
They are still considering possible further legal options with their advisors.
In the letter sent to churches who have backed them in addition to individual supporters who backed the stance of the family-run bakery, Daniel McArthur, Ashers’ general manager, wrote:
“Dear Brother/Sister, I write to say how thankful we are for your prayerful support at this time. It has been our joy to take a small stand for Christ and to have opportunities to witness for Him in the public spotlight and we have many people to thank for how they have been an encouragement to us.
“Above all we give God thanks for how He has brought us through all our difficulties and spread his wings over us. Despite the judgment delivered last week, we do not feel defeated or dismayed.”
The lengthy and costly legal action was brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.
In its judgement the Court of Appeal judges recognised the fact that the family did not refuse the service because Mr Lee was gay, but nonetheless ruled that refusing the order because of its slogan “was direct discrimination”.
In his letter to supports Mr McArthur concludes:
“We believe that this judgment is part of God’s will and through it He will bring glory to Himself. We take comfort in knowing that our God is sovereign and rules over all the earth. Please continue to pray for us as we look to God for guidance in response to this judgment. ‘As I have planned, so shall it be’ Isaiah 14 v 24.”
The Christian Institute has backed the case, which demonstrates the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly-held beliefs.
CI spokesman Simon Calvert said:
“It has been an inspirational privilege to stand with Daniel and his family in this fundamentally important matter as they consider the implications of the recent decision and options which they may now have in the future.
“We promised that through The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund we would stand with the family through this costly battle and we will continue to do so. It has cost over £200,000 so far to defend the legal action brought against them by the Equality Commission.”