It was an hour into her shift when Lindsay Jones, a pastry chef at Denver’s Azucar Bakery, turned her attention from the full lobby to the “older, professional-looking” gentleman who’d just walked in.
There was nothing strange in his demeanor as he sidled up to the counter to place an order. In fact, he was friendly and his request for a Bible-shaped cake seemed simple enough. Azucar’s owner, Marjorie Silva, tells Out Front that her employees are no strangers to Christian-themed requests and regularly fill them.
The gentleman took a seat at one of the tables as the team served him free samples and began building his order. He swiped through pics of Bible cakes on the iPad they presented him, and it appeared he’d found the perfect fit. It was only when he produced a leaf of paper from his pocket — careful not to release it to any of the attending employees, but simply brandishing it for them to read before returning it to his pocket — that the order “got a little uncomfortable,” says Lindsay.
“He wanted us to write God hates …” she trails. “Just really radical stuff against gays.”
“He wouldn’t allow me to make a copy of the message, but it was really hateful,” Marjorie adds. “I remember the words detestable, disgrace, homosexuality, and sinners.”
However uncomfortable the request made the pair, both maintain that he was never refused service.
“I told him that I would bake the cake in the shape of a Bible,” says Marjorie. “Then I told him I’d sell him a [decorating] bag with the right tip and the right icing so he could write those things himself.” She adds that naturally the cake wouldn’t have her handwriting expertise, but she would be devastated to release a cake via the bakery with such a hateful message fashioned by her own hands.
Table-side negotiations quickly broke down. “He told me I needed to talk to my attorney about this,” Marjorie says. Then, he left.
A few hours later, however, he was back, asking Marjorie if she’d conferred with her lawyer over the matter. She hadn’t.
“I was busy,” she says. “I have a business to run here.”
The sweet-toothed patrons in the bakery’s dining room began to take notice of the confrontational man in the lobby and again, Marjorie offered to bake him the cake and sell him the appropriate tools to complete the task himself. Though she thankfully admits their banter never devolved into yelling, she says it’s clear the man was comfortable creating a scene. He left upon request once more, still visibly upset, and Marjorie hoped that was the end of it. She says that one of her guests misheard the confrontation and thought Marjorie was refusing to bake a gay wedding cake. Exhausted, she reassured the patron that he was mistaken and that she would never do such a thing.
“We’ve done lots of gay weddings,” Marjorie — who describes herself as “half-Jewish, half-Catholic” — tells us. “I love all people!”
The third time the gentleman entered the store that day, Marjorie called for backup, asking her brother to excuse him.
“I think he was looking for trouble at that point,” Lindsay interjects, adding that it appeared he was trying to rile up the staff. “He was being really pushy and disruptive about his order.” Azucar’s customers watched the embarrassing ordeal, and again the man agreed to go.
“He said, ‘You will hear from me!’ and I got scared,” Marjorie says. “I was worried he was going to follow me — you can tell who I am in our big, pink van.”
And Marjorie did hear from the man again, but — much to her relief — it was through a letter filed with Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). The letter explained that a discrimination complaint had been filed against the bakery and that she would need to respond with her account of what happened the afternoon of March 13, 2014.
Part of her reply to DORA reads:
I can … tell you that the customer wanted us to draw two males holding hands … with a big ‘X’ on them. I told him that we do not like to discriminate in this bakery, we accept all humans and that the message and drawing is extremely rude.
Lindsay provided a reply to DORA as well that confirms:
[The guest] wanted an open book with the words “god hates homosexuality” and a ‘no’ sign over two men. He also wanted a scripture and the Ghostbusters logo.
Marjorie admits to being legitimately confused as to why he chose her bakery to make the anti-gay cake, but says it could have stemmed from a pro-equality statement she gave to a Spanish-speaking outlet in the wake of the Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. In the case, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission upheld a judge’s ruling that a Lakewood bakery was guilty of discrimination when the owners refused to bake cakes for gay weddings. Ire came from far and wide and being so close to the verdict, Marjorie suspects the man might have been organizing the backlash and using her shop to stage his protest.
“Then again, he could have just seen the pink shop and all the ladies working and thought he could bully us,” she says.
A final portion of Marjorie’s reply states:
I would like to make it clear that we never refused service. We only refused to write and draw what we felt was discriminatory against gays. In the same manner we would not … make a discriminatory cake against Christians, we will not make one that discriminates against gays.
“I’m not sure if I made the right decision [legally],” Marjorie says. “But it felt right to me as a person.”
DORA has requested a final letter from Marjorie. She says they’ll make a decision 30 days from receipt and adds that they’ve been incredibly helpful and kind throughout the process. Out Front will provide updates online as the case progresses.
Out Front also requests that if the anonymous gentleman in the story would like to sit down for an interview, we would be more than happy to arrange. Please email Berlin@OutFrontOnline.com