Bakers who refused gay couple's order close bakery

The bakery that achieved international notoriety after the owners declined to bake a cake for a gay couple has shut up shop.

A message posted on the website of 111 Cakery in Indianapolis quotes St Paul's letter to the Ephesians, and states: "We have decided not to renew our lease so we are now closed.

We want to thank everyone for your patronage, support and friendship. It has been a true pleasure to serve you."

Randy McGath said the bakery was still profitable but his wife, Trish, wanted to spend more time with their four grandchildren and felt the job "was wearing her out."

The couple were criticised in March after they declined to bake a cake for a commitment ceremony for two men. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Indiana since October 7.

In fact there was even a rise in sales after the controversy, and sales never dropped below their previous levels.

McGath, who attends a Baptist church with his wife, opened the bakery in 2012. They "just didn't want to be party to a commitment ceremony" because such an event reflected "a commitment to sin," he told media.

USA Today reported: "There was zero hate here. We were just trying to be right with our God. I was able to speak to many homosexuals in the community and to speak our opinion and have a civil conversation. I'm still in touch with some."

The Indianapolis Star, which led coverage of the story, reported that the couple were well aware of the neighbourhood's gay culture when they opened up shop.

Earlier on their Facebook page, the couple wrote: "As Christians, we have a sincere love for people. As artists, we must find the inspiration to create something special for our clients. When asked to do a cake for an occasion or with a theme (alcohol explicit in nature) that is in opposition to our faith, that inspiration is not found. We feel that it is important for a paying customer to know when this is the case. Why would you want a cake that is less than inspired for your special event. That is why this week we told a man that requested a cake for a same-sex ceremony that it was against our policy, but we would be happy to help him with anything else."

They added: "It was not that we wanted to deny them a cake, it's just tough to create something that goes against your beliefs. Was this the right thing to say? Maybe not, but this phone call caused us to do a lot of soul searching because we want to be right with our God as well as respect others. We have not heard from this man but would welcome a chance to meet with him. We sincerely wish them the best."

In a column in the IndyStar, Erika Smith wrote: "The storefront on East 16th Street was barren when I walked by. The pink-lined, glass cases replaced by the sterile white of empty shelves."

She said she noticed that 111 Cakery had closed just hours before her colleague, Will Higgins, posted a story about it. The bakery was in her neighbourhood, but she had long since stopped patronising it.

"The fact that owners Trish and Randy McGath had refused to bake a cake for a gay couple's commitment ceremony last year rubbed me the wrong way. I figured that 111 Cakery would get along fine without my money. That people who shared the owners' religious beliefs would rush to their side and buy cupcakes and cookies, and order wedding cakes."

She acknowledges that loss of business was not however why it closed.

"The McGaths closed the bakery because it became too much work for Trish, who wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren. The business was still profitable, her husband, Randy, said. In short, the couple closed 111 Cakery because they wanted to, not because they had to."

She questioned the need for Indiana to enact "religious freedom" legislation.

"The measure would supposedly protect business owners with strong religious beliefs from having to provide services for same-sex weddings. We're talking florists and bakeries and photography studios. The Senate approved the bill last week, and it's now in the House. If the McGaths, citing their religious beliefs, can decline to make a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony and avoid legal repercussions, why do we need a 'religious freedom' law to protect other business owners like them?"

She admits that the bottom line is that as private business owners in Indiana, the McGaths did nothing illegal. "That said, I'm not entirely proud to live in a state where it is OK to deny services to customers who are gay and transgender."