Tag Archives: wedding

World’s first Pastafarian wedding: With this rigatoni, I thee wed

The wedding rings were made of pasta, the ceremony was held on a pirate boat, and when it came time for the kiss, the bride and groom slurped up either end of a noodle until their lips met.

New Zealand hosted the world’s first Pastafarian wedding, conducted by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The group, which began in the U.S. as a protest against creationism instead of science  in public schools. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe.

Pastafarianism has gained legitimacy Poland, the Netherlands and New Zealand, where authorities recently decided it can officiate weddings.U.S. courts have ruled that it’s not a real religion.

Saturday’s ceremony was all about having fun. The guests came dressed as pirates and shouted plenty of hearty “Aaarrrhs.” The groom, Toby Ricketts, vowed to always add salt before boiling his pasta, while bride Marianna Fenn donned a colander on her head.

The church claims that global warming is caused by pirates vanishing from the high seas, and that there is a beer volcano in heaven.

“The Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world. We know that,” said marriage celebrant Karen Martyn, aka the Ministeroni. “We weren’t around then and we didn’t see it, but no other religion was around to see it either, and our deity is as plausible as any other.”

The church has been battling to gain legal recognition around the world, with mixed success. It was formed in 2005 as a way to poke fun at efforts in Kansas public schools to teach not only evolution, but also “intelligent design” — the idea that the universe must have had a creator.

Church founder Bobby Henderson said in an email that he thought it was odd that most weddings still have such an entanglement between religion and government.

“It’s sad that so many people feel pressured to do the traditional Christian wedding even when they don’t relate to much of the religion,” he said. “If people can find some happiness in having Pastafarian weddings, that’s great, and I hope no one gives them any flack about it.”

Ricketts, 35, a voiceover artist, and Fenn, 33, a lawyer and photographer, said they’ve been a couple for four years but decided just three weeks ago to get married, after another Pastafarian couple’s plans to be first to wed fell through.

Ricketts said he found out about the church because he’s been making a documentary about why religions don’t pay taxes.

Fenn said she grew up on a small New Zealand island where people had alternative ideas about how to lead their lives.

“I would never have agreed to a conventional marriage, but the idea of this was too good to pass up,” Fenn said. “And it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate my relationship with Toby, but in a way that I felt comfortable with.”

The wedding feast was an all-pasta affair, while the wedding cake was topped with an image of his noodliness, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Martyn said she hoped people could find happiness in eating, drinking, being with friends and being kind-hearted.

“That be what we’re all about,” she said.


LoveWins Flash mob: Proposal takes Kentucky woman by surprise

When a dancer appeared in mid-July on the Belvedere, Bobbi Jo Saxon of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, thought little of it, as the popular Louisville attraction was busy with families and couples enjoying the afternoon.

Saxon was there with her girlfriend, Kara Gilkey, and their son, Tristan, for his 2-year-old birthday photoshoot, when the music began and the dancer distracted the session.

“Well, I thought we were doing family photos, and our 2-year-old was having a complete meltdown to the point where I thought we were just going to pack up and head home,” Saxon said. “Then all of a sudden, there’s dancers behind us and I think, ‘Oh this is cool. Let’s just watch them.’ I had no idea what was happening.”

The dancer performing to “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, was joined by more and more dancers and eventually about 60 family and friends of the couple wearing purple shirts with “Keep calm and say I do” printed in pink on the front and “#Lovewins” on the back.

That is when Saxon realized the performance was for her.

“I saw people coming around the corner that I knew,” she said about the realization.

The event organized by Gilkey was for a surprise marriage proposal, complete with hired flash-mob dancers.

Gilkey, a doctor originally from Bardstown, said she knew when the couple met about 10 years ago she wanted to marry Saxon, but wouldn’t do it until it was legal in the couple’s home state of Kentucky.

“I never dreamed of the day I would ever be able to marry you, especially in the state of Kentucky,” Gilkey said in the proposal. “On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States decided our love was equal to others’ love.”

A tearful Saxon said, “Yes.”

The proposal was more than seven months in the making in anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriages across the country, Gilkey said.

“I spent a long time planning,” she said, adding that involved a level of deception, for which she felt guilty, including fake work meetings and changing contact names in her phone.

Videos were sent to family and friends wishing to learn the dance routine and participate.

The ruse even involved their photographer, Elaina Janes, who had to thwart a couple of missteps and even Saxon contacting her.

“We’ve gone to extreme lengths to cover this up,” Janes said. “Kara had to change my name in her phone. I almost slipped when Bobbi Jo emailed me.”

Gilkey’s mother, Myrna Gilkey of Bardstown, said the family was “scared to death” they were going to “spill the beans.”

“I love Bobbi Jo like one of my own kids,” she said. “Kara is the happiest I have ever seen her and that’s what makes me happy. I’m glad to make Bobbi Jo more officially part of the family.”

The organized and involved proposal was typical of Gilkey’s personality, said Randy Saxon of Iron Mountain, Michigan, Bobbi Jo’s father.

“It’s not unexpected of Kara,” he said. “I’m not saying she overdoes things, she just wants the best. It doesn’t surprise me she’s going to such lengths.”

Randy added he was “tickled to death” for the couple and that the ability for his daughter to marry the woman she loves was a “long time coming.”

“It’s America,” he said. “This should have been a long time ago where they could legally do this.”

The wait is what made this proposal so special for Mitchell Finke, director and choreographer of bookaflashmob.com.

“With everything’s that happened, it was perfect timing,” he said, adding the more than 60 family and friend participants showed the couple had great support.

Jamie Alvey and Brittany Roberts, friends of the couple, came for just that reason, they said.

“I just want to show them my support,” said Roberts, a childhood friend of Bobbi Jo. “They’re awesome.”

Alvey, a friend of Kara, added it helped that she could participate in a flash mob, which was on her bucket list.

“I wanted to be a part of the proposal and I always wanted to be a part of a flash mob,” she said.

The support the couple received was heartening, said Kara’s brother-in-law, Dwight Newton of Bardstown.

“I know how much we love Kara, but I didn’t know how many other people did, too,” he said. “I am amazed by the number of folks that came out and how well it went.”

All that’s left now is the wedding, which Kara said she would leave up to Bobbi Jo.

“She is a party planner,” she said. “She will start the wedding planning the minute we leave here.”

On the Web…


Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage: any day now

With a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage expected any day now, gay couples in states with bans are making wedding plans, courthouse officials are getting ready for different scenarios and steadfast foes are working on their strategies to keep up the opposition.

Marriage license bureaus are bracing for a rush of applicants if the court overturns bans. Meanwhile, there’s been a series of planning sessions by groups that intend to explore religious objection responses to protect “traditional marriage” limited to heterosexuals.

Gay couples, such as Ethan Fletcher and Andrew Hickam of Cincinnati, are gearing up for a quick run to the courthouse in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee – the states involved in the cases that were argued in April before the justices. They’re among 14 states that ban same-sex marriage, and if the high court rules in favor of gay marriage, it would apply nationally.

Fletcher, 31, a University of Cincinnati senior academic adviser, and Hickam, 30, a GE Aviation engineer, have arranged to take off work to get their license if the decision allows immediate same-sex marriages and will then plan a formal wedding. They became engaged nearly two years ago but decided against getting married in another state as long as there was the possibility they could do it at home.

“Well, we live here and we pay taxes here and our families live here,” said Fletcher, adding that they want his grandmother and Hickam’s mother to be able to attend. “We didn’t feel that it was reasonable for us to have to travel out of state for the freedom to marry.”

In Hamilton County, where Cincinnati is located, the marriage license bureau said other courthouse staffers have been cross-trained and forms are available online to help speed the process. Court officials in Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland is located, say they’re prepared to process triple the usual number of applications.

Probate Court Judge Jan Michael Long, of Pickaway County, near Columbus, said he and other probate judges met to discuss potential rulings and their impacts. There are a lot of procedural issues involving the need for gender-neutral wording and who gets legal notifications, he said, and it could be complicated depending on when the court ruling becomes effective and how it’s worded.

In Ingham County, Michigan, Clerk Barb Byrum said she might not wait for a new marriage license form from the state, and could simply white-out “bride” and “groom” on the application when she gets the legal green light.

She has collected dozens of email addresses from local same-sex couples to notify them of the Supreme Court decision when she knows it. She was among four clerks who issued licenses on a Saturday during a 24-hour period in 2014 when gay marriage in Michigan was legal between court orders.

The Tennessee Equality Project has been asking people to let them know in advance if they plan to get married on Day One. Its website includes instructions on obtaining licenses and finding officiants.

Bleu Copas, who lives just outside of Knoxville, said he wants to get married right away if the ban is lifted.

“We’re looking at wedding bands and what to wear,” he said.

He and his fiance plan to marry at a small chapel on a farm belonging to the pastor of Nashville’s Covenant of the Cross Church, Greg Bullard, who intends to host at least 15 free weddings for same-sex couples on July 3 if the court makes it legal.

Some pastors, though, have signaled plans to resist a Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a “pastor protection” law that allows clergy members to refuse officiating marriages that violates his religious beliefs.

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting this past week in Columbus, issued a statement saying they would not recognize, host or perform same-sex marriages. Some county clerks in Kentucky and other states, including Nebraska, have expressed objections to the possibility of same-sex marriages, but Douglas County Clerk Thomas Cavanaugh, in Omaha, said Nebraska’s largest counties already have changed marriage license applications to include gender-neutral wording and are ready to follow whatever the high court decides is the law.

North Carolina and Utah have passed laws allowing some court officials to refuse to perform gay marriage responsibilities.

Advocacy groups opposed to same-sex marriage have been discussing the legal defenses for religious objectors including business owners, employers and others besides clergy and court officials. Phil Burress, leader of the Citizens for Community Values that opposes gay marriage, predicts a ruling in favor of it will trigger more litigation and political action.

In Cincinnati, Hickam and Fletcher say if the court upholds bans, they’ll go to a state that has recognized same-sex marriage through state, not federal action, to wed and then work for the political movement to gain recognition at the ballot box.

“We would then just join forces with the rest of the gay community to bring about change through the democratic process,” Hickam said. “And things would be hopeful going that route.”

Alabama Supreme Court says anti-gay ruling stands until U.S. Supreme Court rules

The Alabama Supreme Court has made itself an outlier in the judicial march legalizing same-sex marriages in the United States, drawing rebukes from gay rights advocates and evoking comparisons to Alabama’s defiance of federal authorities during the civil rights movement.

The court set up a showdown with a Mobile, Alabama, federal judge this week when it ordered officials in the state to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision later this year on whether gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry.

The Alabama ruling contradicts U.S. District Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade, who declared in January that Alabama’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Even as nationwide marriage equality is on the horizon, the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Alabama wasn’t the first state where a federal trial or appeals court declared same-sex marriages legal, but the state justices made Alabama the only state to push back in advance of the U.S. Supreme Court settling the matter.

The justices’ decision had quick results: By Wednesday afternoon, gay rights advocates said they could not find one of Alabama’s 67 counties where a same-sex couple could get a marriage license. Before the ruling, 48 counties had issued licenses in compliance with Granade’s earlier declarations.

The Alabama justices don’t dispute that the nation’s highest court will have the final say. But absent that ruling, the justices reasoned, they remain the ultimate authority on applying the U.S. Constitution to a state law. “State courts may interpret the U.S. Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts,” they wrote in a decision that described “traditional” marriage as “the fundamental unit of society.”

Minter, the attorney who represented gay couples who initially challenged Alabama’s ban, said the state justices showed “callous disregard” for their rights.

Dean Lanton said he and his partner, Randy Wells, had planned to wed in Birmingham on Aug. 12, the anniversary of their first date, but now might have to get married out of state because of the decision.

“It was a punch in the gut. It was out of the blue,” said Lanton, 54. “It’s just Alabama politics, deja vu from the 1960s.”

University of Alabama law professor Ronald Krotoszynski said the Alabama justices are technically correct in asserting their authority in the case. The U.S. Constitution actually doesn’t say whether state courts must adhere to federal court rulings. It simply created U.S. Supreme Court and authorized Congress to create other federal courts as necessary.

But Krotoszynski said the particular circumstances still make the Alabama action surprising, particularly given that the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta and the U.S. Supreme Court itself declined Alabama’s earlier requests to delay Granade’s order until after the high court rules this year.

Many legal observers have interpreted those refusals as the court telegraphing its intention to rule in favor of same-sex marriage advocates.

“Does the (Alabama) court have the power to do this? Yes,” the professor said. “Was it wise for the court to exercise its power this way? I’d say no. … This is just not a standard kind of move in the inter-relationship between state and federal courts.”

Same-sex couples will likely appeal up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary to block the latest state supreme court ruling, said Ben Cooper, chairman of Equality Alabama. “It’s important to understand that this is not nearly the end of this,” he said.

Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed, a Democrat who was among the first to comply with Granade’s order, said he would likely join an appeal.

John Enslen, Reed’s colleague in neighboring Elmore County, however, praised the Alabama justices. He wrote on his Facebook page that he is “saddened for my nation that the word `marriage’ has been hijacked by couples who cannot procreate.”

Then there are the county officials who aren’t advocating a position – they’re just tired of the legal roller coaster.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Probate Judge Leon Archer in rural Tallapoosa County. “I had done made up my mind we were going to issue the licenses and I thought that was it. And I think that is going to be the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in June.”

Blue and black or gold and white? Debate goes viral over colors in dress

It’s the dress that’s beating the Internet black and blue. Or should that be gold and white?

Friends and co-workers worldwide are debating the true hues of a royal blue dress with black lace that, to many an eye, transforms in one photograph into gold and white. Experts are calling the photo a one-in-a-million shot that perfectly captures how people’s brains perceive color and process contrast in dramatically different ways.

“This photo provides the best test I’ve ever seen for how the process of color correction works in the brain,'” said Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, the clinical adviser to Britain’s College of Optometrists. “I’ve never seen a photo like before where so many people look at the same photo and see two sets of such dramatically different colors.”

The photo, taken earlier this month before a wedding on the remote Scottish island of Colonsay, also illustrates the dynamics of a perfect social-media storm. Guests at the wedding could not understand why, in one photo of the dress being worn by the mother of the bride, the clearly blue and black-striped garment transformed into gold and white. But only in that single photo, and only for around half of the viewers.

The debate spread from the wedding to the Internet, initially from friend to perplexed friend on Facebook.

One such wedding guest, musician and singer Caitlin McNeill, posted the photo Thursday night to her Tumblr account with the question: “Guys please help me. Is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the (expletive) out.” She’s consistently seen gold.

One of her friends, Alana MacInnes, saw gold and white for the first hour, then black and blue.

Buzzfeed sensed clickbait heaven and, amid its own newsroom argument, was among the first to call McNeill. It posted more than a half-dozen stories on the image and the tsunami of reaction.

On Twitter, (hash)TheDress and variants surged to the top of trending lists globally within hours.

The entertainment elite then chimed in.

Taylor Swift saw the dress was “obviously” blue and black. “What’s the matter with u guys, it’s white and gold,” countered Julianne Moore. Kim Kardashian, never one to miss a trending topic, reported she was seeing gold but to husband Kanye West, it was solidly black and blue. “Who is color blind?” Kardashian asked the twitterati.

The answer, says Hardiman-McCartney, is that every viewer seeing either set of colors is right.

He says the exceptional bar-code style of the dress, combined with the strongly yellow-toned backlighting in the one photo, provides the brain a rare chance to “choose” which of the dress’ two primary colors should be seen in detail.

Those who subconsciously seek detail in the many horizontal black lines convert them to a golden hue, so the blue disappears into a blown-out white, he said.

Others whose brains focus on the blue part of the dress see the photo as the black-and-blue reality.

“There’s no correct way to perceive this photograph. It sits right on the cusp, or balance, of how we perceive the color of a subject versus the surrounding area,” he said. “And this color consistency illusion that we’re experiencing doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your eyes. It just shows how your brain chooses to see the image, to process this luminescence confusion.”

The photo produced a deluge of media calls Friday to the Tumblr reporter, 21-year-old McNeill, who calls the seemingly endless phone calls “more than I’ve received in the entirety of the rest of my life combined.” She says the photographer, who is also the mother of the bride, never wanted the publicity.

There’s one clear winner: English dress retailer Roman Originals, which has reported a million hits on its sales site in the first 18 hours following the photo’s worldwide distribution.

“I can officially say that this dress is royal blue with black lace trimming,” said Michele Bastock, design director at Roman Originals.

She said staff members had no idea that the dress, when shot in that singularly peculiar light, might be perceived in a totally different color scheme. Not until Friday anyway, when they arrived at work to field hundreds of emails, calls and social media posts. They, too, split almost 50-50 on the photo’s true colors.

All agreed, however, the dress for the Birmingham, England-based retailer was likely to become their greatest-ever seller. The chain’s website Friday headlined its product as “(hash)TheDress now back in stock – debate now.”

“Straightaway we went to the computers and had a look. And some members of the team saw ivory and gold. I see a royal blue all the time,” she said. “It’s an enigma … but we are grateful.”


Texas AG says court-allowed lesbian marriage is invalid

As a newlywed lesbian couple in Texas celebrate defying a statewide ban on gay marriage, the state’s Republican attorney general is preparing to tell a court today why it should rule their nuptials invalid.

The marriage license given to two Austin women — who succeeded by seizing on a ruling this week in an unrelated estate squabble — thrust Texas back into the national spotlight over gay marriage but didn’t send same-sex couples rushing to courthouses.

The Texas Supreme Court acted quickly after an appeal from Attorney General Ken Paxton to block other potential gay marriages, making the nuptials somewhat bittersweet for Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend.

“We just feel like we were in the right place at the right time, to maybe put a nice crack in that door that’s going to open up for all Texans,” Bryant said. Texas is one of 13 states where gay marriage remains outlawed.

Friends and Democratic lawmakers toasted Bryant and Goodfriend, who have been together 30 years and have two teenage daughters, at a downtown Austin bar earlier this week after county officials obeyed a judicial order to wed the couple.

Goodfriend, 58, has ovarian cancer. A state district judge raised the “severity and uncertainty” of her condition in granting the women permission to marry, sending the couple scrambling through a Travis County clerk building in case state Republican leaders got wind and intervened.

Within hours, the Texas Supreme Court had blocked other gay couples from getting married under similar special exceptions – but didn’t address the women’s marriage, which Paxton said he considered void.

But that remains in dispute, and Paxton’s spokeswoman, Cynthia Meyer, said their office will file additional paperwork with the state Supreme Court on Friday to argue their case.

“Activist judges don’t change Texas law and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state,” Paxton said in a statement.

New Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also reaffirmed his support for Texas’ constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2005.

The women were granted a one-time license after an Austin probate judge this week ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional in an estate case that was unrelated to the couple. Sensing an opportunity, Goodfriend and Bryant had their lawyer petition the judge Thursday morning.

State District Judge David Wahlberg, an elected Democrat, sided with the couple and directed Travis County officials to stop relying on “the unconstitutional Texas prohibitions against same-sex marriage as a basis for not issuing a marriage license.”

Bryant said that being legally married to Goodfriend would ensure inheritance and allow the couple to make medical decisions for each other should one of them become critically ill.

Courts in Indiana made a similar exception for a lesbian couple in April because one of the women was dying of cancer and wanted her partner’s name on her death certificate. A federal appeals court overturned Indiana’s ban in September.

A federal judge in San Antonio last year overturned Texas’ same-sex marriage ban but put his ruling on hold while the state appeals to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“We are all waiting for a final decision on marriage equality,” said Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir, whose office issued the marriage license. “However, this couple may not get the chance to hear the outcome of this issue because of one person’s health.”

Goodfriend, policy director for state Rep. Celia Israel, said during a news conference that her last chemotherapy treatment was 4 1/2 months ago. But, she added: “All of us wonder if the cancer grows back along with the hair growing back.”

Bryant, an Austin lawyer who works on adoptions for same-sex couples, said she and her wife believe their marriage license is valid.

Mark Phariss, who along with his partner are leading the Texas gay marriage lawsuit in federal court, said he was “thrilled” by news of the nuptials even though it’s unlikely to impact their bigger case. He said Bryant and Goodfriend’s circumstance “is evidence of the harm the ban is having on the state.”

Shortly after their marriage, Travis County officials said two other same-sex couples inquired about marriage licenses. By then, Paxton’s office was already preparing its emergency filing with the state Supreme Court.

“The AG can do what he wants. This is a very good day in Texas for progressively minded people, much less lesbian and gay people,” said Steven Tomlinson, who celebrated with Goodfriend and Bryant at their party Tuesday night.

Baker faces complaint for refusing cake with anti-gay message

A dispute over a cake in Colorado raises a new question about gay rights and religious freedom: If bakers can be fined for refusing to serve married gay couples, can they also be punished for declining to make a cake with anti-gay statements?

A baker in suburban Denver who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding is fighting a legal order requiring him to serve gay couples even though he argued that would violate his religious beliefs.

But now a separate case puts a twist in the debate over discrimination in public businesses, and it underscores the tensions that can arise when religious freedom intersects with a growing acceptance of gay couples.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver’s Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.

She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn’t want that.

“It’s just horrible. It doesn’t matter if, you know, if you’re Catholic, or Jewish, or Christian, if I’m gay or not gay or whatever,” said Silva, 40, adding that she has made cakes regularly for all religious occasions. “We should all be loving each other. I mean there’s no reason to discriminate.”

Discrimination complaints to Colorado’s Civil Rights Division, which is reviewing the matter, are confidential. Silva said she would honor the division’s policy and would not share the correspondence she has received from state officials on the case. KUSA-TV reported the complainant is Bill Jack of Castle Rock, a bedroom community south of Denver.

In a statement to the television station, Jack said he believes he “was discriminated against by the bakery based on my creed.”

“As a result, I filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. Out of respect for the process, I will wait for the director to release his findings before making further comments.”

Jack did not respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment. No one answered the door at the address listed for Jack in Castle Rock.

The case comes as Republicans in Colorado’s Legislature talk about changing the state law requiring that businesses serve gays in the wake of a series of incidents where religious business owners rejected orders to celebrate gay weddings. Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg said the new case shows a “clash of values” and argued Colorado’s public accommodation law is not working.

“The state shouldn’t come in and say to the individual businessman, `You must violate your religious – and I’ll say religious-slash-moral convictions. This baker (Silva), thought that was a violation of their moral convictions. The other baker, which we all know very well because of all the stories, clearly that was a violation of their religious convictions,” Lundberg said.

But gay rights advocates say there is a significant difference in the cases. Silva refused to put specific words on a cake while Jack Phillips, the baker who turned away the gay couple, refused to make any wedding cake for them in principle.

“There’s no law that says that a cake-maker has to write obscenities in the cake just because the customer wants it,” said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado.

Phillips’ attorneys had argued in court that requiring him to prepare a gay marriage cake would be akin to forcing a black baker to prepare a cake with a white supremacist message. But administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer disagreed, writing that business owners can refuse a specific message, but not service.

“In both cases, it is the explicit, unmistakable, offensive message that the bakers are asked to put on the cake that gives rise to the bakers’ free speech right to refuse,” administrative law judge Robert N. Spencer said.

Phillips’ attorney, Nicolle Martin, said she has sympathy for Silva, arguing she is in the same category as her client. “I absolutely support her right to decline,” Martin said. “I support her right as an American to pick and choose the messages she will express.”

Silva said she remains shaken up by the incident. “I really think I should be the one putting the complaint against him, because he has a very discriminating message,” she said.

Judge rules against florist who refused gays’ business

A judge has decided the state of Washington has the authority to bring a consumer protection lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom also ruled recently that the owner of the Richland, Washington, flower shop can be held personally liable for violating the Consumer Protection Act.

Barronelle Stutzman and her shop, Arlene’s Flowers, are being sued for refusing to sell flowers for a 2013 same-sex wedding.

The judge still has two more motions to rule on in the lawsuit, including whether the facts case show the florist violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

The state attorney general is asking for a permanent injunction requiring Stutzman and her shop to comply with the consumer protection law.

Gay couples to marry Thursday in South Carolina

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has denied the state of South Carolina’s motion to stay last week’s U.S. District Court ruling striking down the state’s discriminatory marriage ban, setting the stage for marriages to begin for same-sex couples at moon on Nov. 20.

South Carolina’s attorney general had filed a motion for an emergency stay to delay marriages following a ruling by the U. S. District Court for the District of South Carolina striking down the state’s discriminatory marriage ban in accordance with the Fourth Circuit’s earlier decision striking down a similar ban in Virginia.

“The end game is clear — marriage will soon be available for same-sex couples in South Carolina. This is a great victory for same-sex couples and their families because it removes one more hurdle to finally walking down the aisle,” said Beth Littrell, senior attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

“We urge the attorney general  to stop trying to delay the inevitable — their actions are damaging to families they were elected to protect,” said South Carolina Equality lawyer Malissa Burnette, a partner at Callison Tighe & Robinson.

“We are ecstatic as we get ready to go pick up our license at noon on Thursday,” said Lambda Legal client Colleen Condon.

Lambda Legal and South Carolina Equality represent Condon and Nichols Bleckley, who applied and paid for a marriage license in Charleston County soon after the U.S. Supreme Court last month declined to review rulings out of three federal appellate circuits — including the 4th Circuit — invalidating discriminatory marriage bans in five states.

Before they received their marriage license, South Carolina’s attorney general asked the South Carolina State Supreme Court to step in and halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The court effectively stopped state court judges from issuing marriage licenses or weighing in on marriage equality pending an order from federal court.

Last week U.S. District Court Richard Gergel struck down the marriage ban, but delayed enforcement of his order for one week — until noon on Nov. 20 — to give the state a chance to appeal.

Today’s ruling affirmed the order allowing marriages to begin.

Walker: Son witnessing same-sex wedding isn’t a policy statement

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker says his 19-year-old son’s decision to be a witness at a relative’s same-sex marriage isn’t a policy statement.

The potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and an incumbent candidate in the governor’s race this fall was asked on July 8 about his son Alex’s decision to be a witness to the June 9 wedding in Waukesha County. The marriage was between the first cousin of Walker’s wife Tonette and her female partner.

Walker says he was aware that his son was attending the wedding, but Walker himself was in New York at the time of the ceremony.

Walker says of Alex’s decision to be a witness, “He doesn’t need my blessing to do anything he does.”

Walker is a longtime opponent of same-sex marriages and is defending the state’s ban that a federal court judge last has ruled unconstitutional.