A Christian baker who refused to make a cake supporting gay marriage is facing legal action unless he pays compensation.
Daniel McArthur, the general manager of Northern Ireland's Ashers Baking Company, was contacted by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland who demanded compensation over what they call a breach of legislation.
Earlier this year, McArthur turned down a request to bake a cake with a slogan that supports gay marriage and an image of Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie. The baker said that he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and the requested slogan "Support Gay Marriage" went against his religious beliefs.
"We feel that the Equality Commission are pursuing us because of our beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman," McArthur said in response to the organization's letter that demanded compensation within seven days. "It feels like a David and Goliath battle because on one hand we have the Equality Commission who are a public body, they're funded by taxpayers' money, they have massive resources at their disposal whereas we are a small family business and we have limited resources at our disposal."
McArthur refused to be bullied by the group, stating that his religious beliefs should be enough. "We're continuing to hold to the stand that we took originally because we believe it's biblical, we believe it's what God would want us to do, and we also think that if we do cave in to the Equality Commission at this point it'll put pressure on other citizens who are defending their view of traditional marriage."
McArthur argues that the bakery isn't trying to stop gay marriage or prevent legislation, but it simply wants the freedom to choose who the owners do and don't serve. "We don't want to be forced to promote a cause which is against our biblical beliefs. We've had a lot of support from people who disagree with our stance on same-sex marriage. They think that we should have the freedom to decline an order that conflicts with our conscience."
Simon Calvert, spokesman for the country's Christian Institute, said: "It is simply baffling for a body supposedly working for equality to be threatening a Christian family with legal action, all because of a cake."
The Equality Commission recognizes the bakery's refusal to comply and will be issuing a civil bill for possible traction in a further court case.