Portland bakers make national news after gay marriage controversy, but local industry is unchanged
by Enid Spitz
Controversy surrounding a same-sex marriage in Portland is reaching national levels, but many local businesses remain unscathed.
Last week Gresham’s Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused a local lesbian couple’s wedding cake order based on religious objections to their sexuality. Owner Aaron Klien reportedly called Portlander Laurel Bowman and her fiancee, “abominations to the Lord,” though he later denied the statement and claimed, “I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody.”
Nevertheless, the incident received national coverage on Fox News and ABC News. Cakes by Melissa’s yelp.com site became a forum for discussion, receiving 210 one-star reviews and plummeting from a three- to one-star ranking.
Despite the outbreak of social media and news coverage, the incident has not affected all local bakeries so drastically.
“It’s affected the wedding industry, with everyone posting things on Facebook,” Tami O’Hickey, a wedding cake consultant at JaCiva bakery on Portland’s SE Hawthorne Blvd., said, “but I don’t think its really affected bakeries much.”
“If anything, I would expect this to increase our business, but I haven’t seen it, not yet at least” O’Hickey said.
She said the bakery caters regularly to all types of couples, and they’re already planning ahead for the busy summer season.
Business goes on as usual.
But the cake has not been forgotten. Within a week of the Sweet Cakes incident, local Pastrygirl and national sensation Charm City Cakes announced plans to support Bowman’s wedding.
Charm City Cakes, made famous on TV’s Ace of Cakes, claims to be closed until February 25th but is actually busy making a “’bride’s cake’ (in place of the traditional ‘groom’s cake’)…and delivering it to the couple” according the February eighth press release.
Pastrygirl owner Laura Widener describes herself as, “an LGBT small business owner with deep roots in the community.” She said in a letter to the press that she is proud to support the marriage, which reminds her of celebrating her own same-sex union ten years ago.
For bakers O’Hickey and Widener, the cake’s the thing.
Widener said in her press release, “why would you want a world with less love and less cake?”