Bil Browning

Cupcakegate: The finale

Filed By Bil Browning | December 20, 2010 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anti-gay discrimination, cupcakegate, Indianapolis, Just Cookies

Remember "Cupcakegate?" Just Cookies, an Indianapolis bakery, refused to serve a college LGBT group rainbow frosted cupcakes for National Coming Out Day and the city went into an uproar. The Mayor's office launched an investigation and the local news was all over the story and supportive of our community.

The city's probe found the bakery's actions failed to comply with the local human rights ordinance rainbow-cupcake.jpgthat includes sexual orientation and gender identity. The city and the bakery have reached an agreement on how to move forward.

[Just Cookies] has reached a settlement agreement with the City of Indianapolis whereby it agrees to abide by the terms of the City's human rights ordinance in the future as a condition to keeping its lease in City Market and posting a notice of the policy at its place of business. The City's human rights ordinance... requires businesses that do business with city and county agencies to have policies prohibiting discrimination on these bases [sic]. Indiana Equality, an organization that claims to support GLBT rights, angered members of its own community when it and two of its board members, City-County Councilor Jackie Nytes and former City-County Councilor Scott Keller, the original co-sponsors of the HRO, took the view the bakery did not violate the ordinance by refusing to sell rainbow-colored cupcakes to the organization and urged the community to drop its complaint against the business. Obviously, the city's office of corporation counsel viewed the matter differently.

The firestorm IE generated with this rivaled when they came out against ENDA and provided cover for Republicans and Blue Dog democrats to oppose the federal legislation. Democratic Congressmen Donnelly, Ellsworth, and Hill all cited IE's public opposition for ENDA at one point or another as their reason not to support the legislation. ENDA, which would provide equal employment opportunity for our entire community, could have passed this year if it had two or three more votes.

Their foolish position cost the LGBT community employment protections after they gave skittish Democrats a handy excuse for political homophobia. Sadly, the knee-jerk reactions and grabs for political relevancy have continued unabated.

Before publishing an op-ed in the Indy Star that supported discrimination and compared the LGBT community to the Aryan Nation, the group didn't solicit opinions from the Equal Opportunity Board sponsor, lead lobbyist, or even the lawyer who actually wrote the ordinance. As the HRO's lead lobbyist, I gave out papers with the IE logo on them that said the exact opposite of what they were saying in their op-ed.

According to several sources, IE issued the statement after being pressured by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels and several moderate Republican legislators.

People wonder why all the crazy nutjob anti-gay stories are coming out of Indiana virtually unchallenged and here's the only comparison I can offer. Close your eyes and imagine Gay Inc with the Log Cabin Republicans permeating everything queer like HRC attempts to do now.

You know things have gone to hell when a Tea Party mayor's administration offers more support to the LGBT community than the so-called gay rights group.


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Discrimination is never right. As for IE all I can say is at times I feel like we are slipping backwards. That says a lot to me.

We need more organization and action that actually achieves results. If that means we get a million small success' in each community but have to wait on larger one so be it. We seriously need to reevaluate our mission and focus in the LGBT community.

Our first mission is without a doubt support. And that means support for anyone who needs it. A daunting task but is this not what we are fighting for? To Help and preserve ourselves so we can all stand when equality finally comes.

In all things Humanity should be our highest ambition.

So one more violation and they're out of city property?

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | December 21, 2010 8:09 AM

"The city's probe found the bakery's actions failed to comply with the local human rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation and gender identity."

Can you provide a copy of the findings that the city's probe produced? Did it actually determine on behalf of the city that the bakery violated the law?

What you cite simply announces a settlement agreement, apparently in the absence of such findings. It says the bakery will comply withthe law, without further saying whether or not the law was violated. In other words, for their own reasons, both sides have simply "kicked the can down the road" for future disagreements.

I just wanted to point out, by the way, that Don Sherfick is one of the very few people I know that have worked with IE in any capacity who's had the guts and strength to stick it out in the hopes of making the org worthwhile. I admire his courage and tenacity greatly.

He's definitely one of the good ones.

Bil, thanks for the update. While I hope Ballard is a one-term Mayor, his office deserves credit for staying on top of this one.

"Bases" (bay-seez) is the correct plural form for "basis," so it doesn't need a 'sic.'

Jeb Goodcarver | January 1, 2011 2:14 AM

During the entire "Cupcakegate" affair, the only place I heard about it was in Towleroad and vars other web sources...NOTHING on the local TV or radio news. And I live in a small suburban town thirty miles away from Indianoplace where all the media info available is from Indy!!!!!

Really? It made the local ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX affiliates. FOX broke the story originally and has been nominated for a GLAAD award for the reporting. It also made the CNN ticker and got a mention on MSNBC.