Indiana bakery owners Randy and Trish McGath are facing online backlash for refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple's commitment ceremony.
The couple, owners of 111 Cakery in Indianapolis, posted a lengthy Facebook message on Thursday (13 March) explaining they have 'zero hate' but that their Christian beliefs led them to decline to make a cake for Mike Stephens and Shane Laney.
The reaction on Facebook has been harsh with such messages being posted as 'Hate is hate, even if you cover it with frosting!' and 'Jesus would bake a cake for everyone.'
In their Facebook post, the couple stresses that as Christians they have 'sincere love' for people and a 'commitment to treat every person that walks through the door with respect and kindness.'
The trouble was, they would not be able to 'find the inspiration' to make a cake for such an occasion.
'It was not that we wanted to deny them a cake, it’s just tough to create something that goes against your beliefs,' they wrote. 'Was this the right thing to say? Maybe not. But this phone call caused us to do a lot of soul searching because we want to be right with our God as well as respect others.'
Stephens, who made the call to order the cake, tells Fox 59, that 'we found someone who will do it for us so we are going to focus on the good.'
The bakery owners, clearly surprised by the backlash, say they would welcome the chance to meet with Stephens and want people to know: 'There is zero hate here.'
They describe themselves as 'just a small family business trying to bring happiness with cake' and say they have 'happily' done cakes in the past for gay people.
'We are not judging the lives of our clients,' they add. 'We are not trying to make a political statement or change someone’s mind.'
But it may be too late to change the minds of some people who believe the couple are anti-gay bigots.
'If you're looking for a judgement and bigotry-flavored cake, you've come to the right place,' wrote Ryan White on the bakery's Facebook page.
Another man, Philip Steinbacher, wrote on Facebook: 'I imagine that when Jesus fed the multitudes from the fishes and loaves he did background checks on everyone's sexuality to make sure they "inspired" him to perform his miracle. You can tell yourself your decision isn't based on hatred but, hey, the rest of us see right through it. Telling my friends in Indianapolis not to patronize your bakery.'
But there is some support including from Penny Basey Prince who wrote on Facebook: 'Best cupcakes ever. We stand with you and are praying for you.'