Victoria Childress, the owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage in Des Moines, is having a problem. Because she decided to refuse to make a cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers, she is now facing a boycott and is now beign accused of being anti-gay, homophobic and a bigot. Childress baked five cakes for the couple to taste, and when one of them came in, according to Childress, “She introduced herself, and I said, ‘Is this your sister?’ “She said, ‘No. This is my partner.’”
At which point, Childress told the couple that she was unwilling to make their wedding cake, and said “I was straight-forward with them and explained that I’m a Christian and that I have very strong convictions. I chose to be honest about it. They said they appreciated it and left. That was all that was said.”
Childress, of course, wants special treatment so that she can discriminate against others. Soon after that, Childress began to receive hate emails, and local media calls. Vodraska told KCCI that she was offended by Childress. After all, Vodraska, a Christian, stated that “It was degrading. It was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her. I know Jesus loves me. I didn’t need her to tell me that. I didn’t go there for that. I just wanted to go there for a cake.”
The couple released a statement calling Childress a bigot and saying that “Awareness of equality was our only goal in bringing this to light, it is not about cake or someone’s right to refuse service to a customer.”
The Iowa Civil Rights Act was amended in 2007 to include sexual orientation, and the couple have not said if they are willing to file a complaint under that law against the baker. The Iowa Civil Rights Commission has declined to confirm or deny whether they will launch an investigation. The law allows exemptions only for religious institutions, and not for individual businesses.
Childress has said that her decision has nothing to do with discrimination or the lesbian couple, which shows that she lacks any understanding about this at all. Childress stated that “It doesn’t have anything to do with them – it was about my convictions. They can get their cake anywhere.” She has also said that money is not the issue, and that “I’m being attacked because of my beliefs – my convictions to their lifestyle.” She is also no longer reading the hate mail saying that “It’s really hard to read things like that. I’m a pretty quiet, soft-spoken person. But when I stand up for my convictions against things, I’m very strong when it comes to that.”
She has gotten some positive reactions, and a couple of cake orders. She has said that “People are telling me they were proud of me for standing up for my beliefs because not many people do that these days. Business people are afraid to because they’re afraid to lose money.”
While there have been a few positive reactions, there are many more critics. Dana Schaub, a local baker, stated that “To have someone say, ‘Well, I’m sorry because your lifestyle is different from mine, I’m not going to take care of you and help you. And I don’t want your business,’ it’s wrong on so many levels.”
Childress, though, says that she was simply stating her beliefs. She said “I was not rude. I was not condescending. It was matter-of-fact. I told them, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t do that.’”
Of course, that is the problem. She believes that what she is doing was not hurtful, wrong, or problematic. She probably does not see it as condescending either. Simply put, she sees it at being alright for her to discriminate.