Christian bakers who lost their business after refusing to make a cake reading the phrase "Support Gay Marriage" have said their faith is stronger than ever despite ongoing legal woes.
On Monday, Daniel and Amy McArthur, who run Ashers Baking Company in Belfast, lost an appeal against a judgment that they had discriminated against a gay activist.
"We're disappointed with the way it went. They didn't consider how much our conscience affects us as Christians, in how we run our business, but we still believe that God is in control," McArthur said following the ruling, according to Sky News.
The Christian baker added that those who call them "homophobic" or accuse them of being "discriminatory" don't grasp their argument.
"I think whenever we've been called those names, the people calling them maybe don't fully grasp the arguments and what's at stake," McArthur added. "Or that as Christians, how our beliefs affect every part of our lives, including running our business, and the decisions that we make in our business."
According to Reuters, Ashers Baking Co had been found guilty of discrimination in May last year for refusing to make a cake bearing the words "Support Gay Marriage" and a picture of characters Bert and Ernie from the television show Sesame Street.
The firm initially accepted the order from Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, but later contacted him to cancel it and refund his money, explaining they could not violate their religious beliefs by making the cake.
On Monday, a judge ruled the bakery had directly discriminated against Lee, and Northern Ireland's Equality Commission, which backed Lee's case, said it is seeking costs of $108,000 from the bakery, which said it is taking legal advice on what to do next.
Spokesman for the province's largest Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein said Monday's ruling was a "victory for common sense and equality". However, not all members of the LGBT community are pleased with the decision.
Neil Midgley, a self-confessed gay man, wrote for The Telegraph in support of the bakery, explaining he believes in "equality under the law for people of all sexual and gender inclinations."
"More to the point, I love cake," he joked. "Nonetheless, I'm siding with the Christians. This gay plaintiff is wrong; the law is wrong. Nobody should be forced by law to bake anybody else a cake. Ever."
Midgley also pointed out that everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law, and accused pro-gay groups of denying similar freedoms to Christians or anyone else who opposes their agenda.
"Gareth Lee, the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and indeed the Labour government which enacted these anti-discrimination laws have all overlooked one very important principle: that no prevailing political consensus should ever deny a minority, even a minority of two bakers in Belfast, the right to disagree with it," he wrote.
He urged the LGBT community to support the McArthurs' right not to bake pro-gay cake, warning that one day, "the prevailing political consensus may change again."
"Our lawmakers may once again be tempted to turn against gay people," he concluded. "And on that day, I hope the Christian bakers will stand by me in my fight to protect fundamental freedoms that transcend any cake, any religion and any daft law."