Bakersfield Bakery Refuses Gay Couple

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California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act says, “51 (b) All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.” (bolding mine – author) 

On Saturday, August 26, 2017, a gay couple was refused service by Cathy Miller, owner of Bakersfield’s Tastries Bakery. Ted and Adam had an appointment to choose and order a wedding cake. They had been into the store twice prior to this scheduled appointment and had spoken to staff about the ordering a cake for their wedding. When Miller realized the cake would be for the wedding of the two men in front of her, she immediately “transferred” their appointment to another bakery. (Points for that, at least? on second thought, no… no points. Discrimination is still discrimination.)

Here’s the Facebook post by Ted:

So the fiancé and I are out cake tasting in Bakersfield for OUR BIG DAY and the lady helping us (I have another name for her) asks, “So this is for the bride and groom?” (turning to Adam’s Mom) Uh, no it says Adam and Ted on your form! When we let her know that it’s for us, she quickly (without hesitation) replies “Well I’m going to transfer your order to Stephanie @ Gimme Some Sugar Cakes”. She stands up, walks away, and calls Stephanie to “transfer” us (I think she meant to say REFUSE SERVICE to us) and refer us for an appointment. After she leaves a voice mail with Stephanie she comes back to update us and says “Ok, I’ve called her and left a message. We can do the design and Stephanie can do the filling. Your welcome to stay and enjoy MY cupcakes….” and walks off #discrimination is alive and well in this [edited] up world. #loveislove

The Bakersfield LGBTQ community is understandably annoyed with Tastries. And this doesn’t seem to be the first time this has happened at this business. A Yelp comment from a lesbian couple in Bakersfield:

I went here to ask them to make a cake for my son’s first birthday… and had a lot of excuses as to why it couldn’t be done on time… obviously my money is no good… now I’m starting to see maybe it is because I walked in with my wife… bigotry at it’s best. What a disgrace to behave like that, especially a business…” – Veronica C.

It’s a disgrace, and it’s against California law. It’s also really idiotic, from a purely business point of view. Nobody throws a party like gay men, and a business stands to make a tidy sum catering to a gay wedding. Tastries must be doing very well to turn that down.

JL takes Miller’s side, and Yelps:

Lovely place, hardworking people producing scrumptious treats! .
It’s just wrong that someone would want to force you to violate what you hold important.
So sorry they are using your wonderful business to get attention, rather than simply seeking another baker.
I applaud you standing by your Christian beliefs.
I will be in again, soon.”

Nobody is doing this for attention. The couple involved are not attention-seeking activists, and if they had known in advance that Tastries would violate California law and refuse them service simply because they were gay, they would never have set foot in the place. Both Ted and Adam believe this should have been disclosed to them during their first visit to the store, and the entire situation could have been avoided. The blame for this mess rests squarely at the feet of Cathy Miller at Tastries.

It’s also a shame that staff apparently did not know the owner would refuse to serve a gay couple. In two prior visits, where they did not interact with the owner personally, Ted and Adam were treated warmly by staff. It was clear to employees what the cake was for, and there was no issue until the owner herself became involved.  I’ve heard that two employees walked out when they realized what happened. Good employees are worth a lot, and it’s unfortunate that they got caught in the middle of such nonsense.

“We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone” does not mean you get to ignore California law at your whim. Your religion does not trump anybody else’s civil rights. Some folks have said that members of the LGBTQ community should simply go someplace else, instead of making an issue of discrimination. As far as I am concerned, if Tastries doesn’t want to comply with the law here, then THEY should go someplace where the law doesn’t protect people from religious bigotry. (oh, yes. Bigotry. I’d love to know how may people she’s turned down for cakes because they lived together before getting married. Or how many she’s made for second weddings. The list goes on. Sin is sin, they say, but it’s interesting how often it’s only LGBT “sin” that makes them take a stand.)

The news is going viral in Bakersfield, and well beyond. It didn’t take long for Ted and Adam to start getting messages from as far away as Iowa and Arizona. I’m happy to see that, it angers me to see good people treated so shabbily by a self-righteous woman. I’m also surprised to see her admit on a Bakersfield news channel that she deliberately violated the law. I assume she’s blissfully unaware of the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Hopefully someone will clue her in.

If it were me, I’d be contacting an attorney, or at least the California Department of Justice. I’m pretty sure Ted and Adam won’t, that’s just not them. They had no intention or expectation of their posts going viral, and were simply venting their frustrations about the whole ordeal.

Now for some disclaimers.  This blog is my opinion only, not necessarily Ted and Adam’s. I have known Ted for twenty years, he is a close friend. I’ve known Adam for a couple of years now. I will be the officiant at their wedding next year. We had a long talk about this incident in my home Saturday evening, and discussed the entire situation. They looked over the post before I finished it, to insure the facts of the matter as each of us understood them.

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White House to forward transgender ban?

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News outlets are reporting that the White House is ready to forward it’s “guidance” memo banning transgender individuals from serving in the military to the Department of Defense.  Reports indicate that it could be at the Pentagon by the end of this week, or the beginning of next.

For no good reason, Trump has decided that the military will not allow openly transgender individuals to enlist, and those already serving openly risk being labeled “un-deployable” and being drummed out of the service. Estimates put the cost to accomplish this task at $960 million, in order to save the up to $8.4 million the DoD spends annually on the health care of current transgender troops. (I think I understand why so many of Trump’s businesses have filed for bankruptcy.) The Pentagon spent $52 billion on health care in 2012, and reports have put current costs near $60 billion, including the $60 million spent on erectile dysfunction medications (we buy a lot of Viagra and Cialis, it seems!).

Pictured is Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who told The Navy Times “I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military.” (Image courtesy Logan Ireland.)

Logan and others are not going to take this sitting down, and I don’t think Trump has the slightest idea what kind of storm he’s stirring up. As Scotty said to Gillian, “hold on tight, lassie… it gets bumpy from here!”

This ban makes no sense. Not from an economic consideration and not from a readiness standpoint. We certainly owe openly transgender service members the right to expect us to live up to our promise that they could come out of the closet and serve their country.

The only way this ban makes any sense is to understand that Trump (and many in the GOP) simply want to undo anything and everything done by President Obama. If Obama implemented it, they want to end it. If Obama halted something, they want to start it back up. It is simple racism, bigotry, and blind hatred. They’d bring back Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell-(Don’t Pursue – the forgotten third leg of that policy) if they could, or go back to an outright ban on gay and lesbian service members. Only the Supreme Court’s action which upheld the lower Court’s finding of the unconstitutionality of DADT prevents them from trying that.

This is simply more distraction. Distraction from the Russia investigations that are closing in on Trump and his minions. He’s going to find out it won’t work, but he’s going to create turmoil for many dedicated military personnel before this is done.

Sgt. Ireland deserves better.

Council rejects placement of “In God We Trust” in chambers

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In what to me was, frankly, a surprising action, the Visalia City Council last night voted not to install the motto “IN GOD WE TRUST” on the wall behind the dais, where it would have been displayed with the city seal. In a 4 to 1 vote, the council approved Mr. Collin’s motion that they not proceed with the proposal.

I must admit I was afraid that Councilman Nelsen’s proposal might win the night. I was glad to see I worried needlessly. While each councilman has their own religious views, the majority decided that there was no good reason for the city to inject this particular issue into city government. That was the correct call.

I don’t know if they were swayed by the comments made by the public at Monday night’s meeting, which were uniformly against the idea, or if the council members  had already decided they didn’t have the public’s support. Whatever the reason, a religious declaration will not be adorning the walls of Visalia City Hall.

Thank you, Mayor Gubler, Vice-Mayor Link, Councilman Collins, and Councilman Cox for keeping Visalia a city that respects all of it’s citizens. I appreciate Councilman Nelsen’s intent, and believe he has Visalia’s best interests at heart, but this religious statement does not belong attached to any government body.

God, Allah, Zeus, Odin, Osiris, Apollo, and about 3,000 others did not respond to requests for comment.

In Zeus we trust?

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I suppose it was only a matter of time before it happened here, but now it has. One of Visalia’s city councilmen, Steve Nelsen, has proposed adding “In God We Trust” to the wall of the Council chambers. Other council members seemed cool to the idea, thank goodness, but it’s still been put on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

Fresno recently added the phrase to it’s chambers. Porterville has had it for some time, and that no doubt emboldened the “Christians” of the area to stand before it in their chambers and call for the deaths of homosexuals (waving their Bibles in the air, no less), back in 2013. After all, they have “God” on their side, right?

We might as well get to the arguments that always surround this issue.

Which “god”, Mr. Nelsen? Jehovah? Yaweh? Allah? What about Odin? Zeus? Osiris?

I’m a duly and legally registered minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Is He the “god” you’re talking about? There are thousands of others, all with the same legitimacy for the title.  Maybe we can rotate them through at each meeting?

Yes, I know. It’s on our money. But it was only added to paper money in the 1950’s, because of the fear of the “godless communists”. Our original motto was and is “E Pluribus Unum” (from many, one). With the election of Donald Trump, the ant-immigrant hysteria has swung up again, apparently making that motto passe.

For 143 years, the only imposition of overt religious dogma has been the invocation given at the beginning of meetings. Now, Mr. Nelsen wants the further intrusion of religion in the form of looming letters spelling out “In God We Trust”, or more likely, in all caps, shouting “IN GOD WE TRUST”.  Mr. Nelsen, I’ve been a citizen of this city for about 55 of the past 60 years, and I can assure you that I don’t “trust” in any god(s), and most assuredly not the Christian god. The city as an entity should not either. If you want to pray for divine guidance, go right ahead… doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But don’t try to impose this on the rest of us, not if you believe that every citizen here is equal before the government regardless of their religious affiliations.

I hope this idea gets shot down, and we don’t waste any time, effort, or money on religious indoctrination in our city government. The principle of the separation of church and state exists for good reason, and we should not weaken that division.

 

‘alt.right’ suffers gay wedding cake syndrome

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The news out of Charlottesville this weekend included some tidbits that demonstrate karma is alive and well, and not in the least bit shy.

The ‘alt.right’* idiots marching under the swastika and the Confederate battle flag, carrying their tiki torches and tossing off ‘heil Hitler!’ salutes, have found that hotels, ride-share services, and even folks renting out their houses through services like AirBnB don’t want their business. Imagine that.

I’m just wondering how those folks who raised bloody hell about the right of bakers to refuse to cater a gay wedding will feel about hotels and Uber drivers exercising that same right.

I wonder if we’ll hear them step up to defend a hotel’s right to say allowing Nazis to use their conference hall means they’d be endorsing something they find to be an abomination?

Hey, Fox News? Are you going to feature an Uber driver who refuses to pick up a Nazi? Will you stand behind his choice to refuse service? Will you lambaste anyone who says they have to give them a ride? Asking for a friend.

Aside from the whole “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” issue, there’s more.

You’ve got to wonder how the (white) (privileged) guys who attended the rally didn’t consider that everyone has a cell phone these days, and every cell phone has a rather sophisticated camera built in, and how that meant that they would easily be photographed and identified. Some of them have already began to complain about being fired after their pictures were splashed across screens around the world. Oops. Actions have consequences. Rachel Maddow made some good points about how for the rest of their lives those images will follow them, accessible by potential employers with just a quick Google search. Congrats, guys. From now on you’re one of those Nazi guys at that riot that killed a woman and two cops. Good luck getting a job now. Or a date.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Karma doesn’t care about revenge, or temperature. Just know it’s going to be served.

*oh, and for anyone who doesn’t know, ‘alt.right’ is the new code-word for Nazi. They’re trying a re-brand. New name, same old crap.

Trump Delegates Embassy Staffing. To Putin

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I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll.” – President Donald Trump

Seven hundred and fifty five staff at the United States Embassy and other offices have been told to leave Russia. Rather than express some outrage, or even show a bit of disdain, President Trump instead thanked the former KGB agent and current Russian dictator… er, President, I mean… for cutting our payroll costs.

There’s no real reason for them to go back. I greatly appreciate the fact that we’ve been able to cut our payroll of the United States. We’re going to save a lot of money.”

So the President of the United States just allowed a foreign adversary to determine staffing levels at our diplomatic facilities. Not only that, their expulsion is apparently also their firing. The man “famous” for “YOU’RE FIRED!” has handed that mantle over to Vladimir Putin. We must assume that Trump doesn’t like diplomats that were expelled from a country, like he didn’t like people who were taken prisoner in war.

Even though he praised Putin, Trump doesn’t seem to understand that nobody was actually fired. While he might be able to fire the ambassador and some top-level appointees, most of the people told to leave Russia are career civil servants. There’s a process to ending their employment, and that hasn’t happened. Trump’s hero didn’t save the U.S. treasury a dime. Trump doesn’t seem to know that.

Oh, and somebody is trying to deafen U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana. Not a peep about that from Hair Furor. But he’s going to nuke North Korea.

What will it take for Republicans to stand up and take our country back from the Russians? Especially from the Russian-in-Chief?

Image: Associated Press

Fire and Fury

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I’m a child of the cold war. I grew up with the ever-present thought in mind that at any moment the Soviets could rain down nuclear Armageddon. Have you seen those old “duck and cover” civil defense films from the 50’s and 60’s? I remember third grade at Washington Elementary School here in Visalia, when the air raid sirens went off. We closed the heavy vinyl drapes in the classroom, and got under our desks.  Someone (me, I think) asked the teacher why we closed the drapes, and she told us to protect us from the breaking glass. It didn’t make much sense to me then, and looking back at it as an adult, one wonders who ever thought it did. I don’t know if I realized that my desk and those drapes were woefully inadequate as protective measures, but I do recall being dubious of the entire affair. I don’t remember similar drills in fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary School, or anything other than fire drills after that. It’s almost as if they decided that since we made it past the Cuban Missile Crisis, and nothing similar cropped up in the few years between that brush with global annihilation and my third grade class of 1965, then we didn’t need to conduct them anymore. The air raid sirens went silent, and the “duck and cover” movies were no more.

When the Iron Curtain fell in eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union collapsed, we breathed a sigh of relief. We could now substantially cut back on defense expenditures, and enjoy the “peace dividend” the end of the cold war would grant us. That lasted, what… a few minutes? or so it seemed.  Since then, we’ve had plenty of things pop up to keep our military-industrial complex humming along at a funding rate higher than the next eight countries, combined. Six of those eight are our allies. Who was it that warned us about that?

Well, today’s youngsters can enjoy the same dread and fear that we did, thanks to to crazy men leading nuclear armed nations. Between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, we’re suddenly considering the notion that a nuclear attack is, if not inevitable, then at least much more possible. (not that that threat ever went completely away. Russia inherited most of the U.S.S.R.’s arsenal, and has a large nuclear force, but we’ve mostly assumed that the Russians weren’t completely insane, and don’t actually want a nuclear exchange with the west. We don’t have that assurance this time.)

North Korea has it’s dictator, who took over after his father died. The United States doesn’t have that excuse. Our system gave us Donald Trump, regardless of whether Putin threw a monkey wrench into the gears or not. Our crazy leader might just be a match for their crazy leader, but we’ll be the ones who pay the price.

At least today’s kids can take comfort in the Star Wars program that President Reagan initiated, back in the 1980’s. We can zap those pesky North Korean ICBMs right out of the sky these days, right?

And who knows? Maybe North Korea can’t reach much past Guam. So Hawaii, Alaska, and the Pacific Coast are safe. Maybe. Seattle has to be keeping a wary eye on the western sky, though.

You’re welcome kids. Maybe we can scour YouTube and find those “duck and cover” movies, so you’ll learn how to “survive” the bomb, just like your parents and grandparents did.  Maybe Dr. Strangelove can give us all some pointers.

Ahhhh…  the good old days. Kids, you’re gonna love it!