DENVER — At the Azucar Bakery along South Broadway, love is spread one stroke at a time. But even love has its limits.
So when a still-unidentified customer came into her shop about a year ago asking to have a gay slur written on a Bible-shaped cake, owner Marjorie Silva said she felt she had to draw the line.
Now she’s facing legal action.
“I just want to make cake for happy people,” Silva said. “I’m Christian. I support Christians. We make a lot of Christian cakes. But this just wasn’t right.”
The customer came into Silva’s shop in March of 2014, just months after the conclusion of a very similar incident that took place inside a Lakewood bakery in December of 2013.
In a decision that was eventually upheld by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a judge ruled that Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips broke discrimination laws when he refused to make a cake for Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig, a gay Colorado couple who had attempted to purchase the baked good for their Massachusetts wedding in July of 2012.
Flash forward almost two years, and Silva found herself dealing with a man she described as “very pushy and disruptive,” asking her to bake a cake with an anti-gay message she won’t fully repeat to this day.
Silva said she told the customer she would make the cake with a blank Bible page so that he could write whatever he wanted inside. She said she even offered to give the man an instrument to write the words himself.
He declined, Silva said, and instead told the baker she “needed to talk to an attorney about this.”
After making the statement, Silva said the man returned a short time later and asked her if she had spoken to an attorney. When she said no, he left again — only to return once more. At that time, Silva said she had called her brother into the shop to assist in asking the man to leave for good.
Even though the man hasn’t returned, the ordeal is far from over. Silva has since been notified by the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) that a religious discrimination complaint has been filed against Azucar Bakery.
FOX31 Denver attempted to make contact with the man who lodged the complaint through DORA. But a request filed with the department was not returned on Monday, as the department’s offices were closed due to Martin Luther King Day.
Silva said she recently received a notice from DORA requesting a final letter describing her account of events. She also said the department has indicated it will make a decision within 30 days of the receipt of that letter.
For legal reasons, Silva didn’t want to talk about the controversy directly. Instead, she recited directly from the first letter she sent to DORA.
“The customer wanted us to draw two males holding hands with a big ‘X’ on them,” Silva said. “We never refuse service. But we did feel it was not right for us to present hateful words or images about human beings.”
On Monday, Jessica Mason was among the human beings who patronized Azucar Bakery. She was there with her same-sex partner to order a cake for the couple’s wedding anniversary.
“(Silva) just didn’t want to put hate out there,” Mason said. “Everybody’s free to have their own beliefs, but there’s no reason to spread hate. And I think the message (Azucar Bakery) has clearly sent here is love.”
And now Silva, a woman who wants to do nothing but spread love, is getting a taste of her own medicine in return. Since word of her refusal started to spread on social media, messages have started flowing in on her shop’s Facebook page from all over the world.
“For some reason in Colorado, people seem to want to start fights in bakeries, of all places,” one reads. “I’m sure this will work out in your favor. Thank you for being such a beautiful person inside and out.”
In Silva’s eyes, the world is built much like the cakes she creates — with the filling being no more important than the icing.
“We’re all the same,” Silva said. “We’re all human beings.”