Victoria Childress, the owner of Victoria's Cake Cottage in Des Moines, has been accused of being anti-gay, homophobic and a bigot after she refused to make a cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers.
Childress told Fox News & Commentary that she made five cakes for the couple to taste - unaware that they were lesbians.
"She introduced herself, and I said, 'Is this your sister?'" Childress said. "She said, 'No. This is my partner.'"
At that point Childress told the couple that she would not be willing to make their wedding cake.
"I was straightforward with them and explained that I'm a Christian and that I have very strong convictions," she said. "I chose to be honest about it. They said they appreciated it and left. That was all that was said."
But that wasn't the end of the story. Soon Childress began receiving hateful emails and then the local media called.
Vodraska told KCCI that she was offended by Childress.
"It was degrading," she told the television station. "It was like she chastised us for wanting to do business with her. I know Jesus loves me. I didn't need her to tell me that. I didn't go there for that. I just wanted to go there for a cake."
The pair also released a statement, calling the Christian cake baker a "bigot."
"Awareness of equality was our only goal in bringing this to light; it is not about cake or someone's right to refuse service to a customer," they wrote in a statement posted on KCCI's website.
The Iowa Civil Rights Act was amended in 2007 to include protections for sexual orientation. The couple told the television station they had not decided whether they would file a civil rights complaint against the baker.
A spokesperson for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission declined to confirm or deny whether they've launched an investigation. State law only allows exemptions from discrimination laws to a bona fide religious institution.
Childress said her decision had nothing to do with discrimination or the lesbian couple.
"It doesn't have anything to do with them -- it was about my convictions," she stressed. "They can get their cake anywhere."
Childress said money is not the issue. "I'm being attacked because of my beliefs -- my convictions to their lifestyle," she said.
Childress said she stopped reading the hate mail.
"It's really hard to read things like that," she said. "I'm a pretty quiet, soft-spoken person. But when I stand up for my convictions against things, I'm very strong when it comes to that."
She said she's received a positive reaction from local business owners -- along with some cake orders.
"People are telling me they were proud of me for standing up for my beliefs because not many people do that these days," she said. "Business people are afraid to because they're afraid to lose money."
But there have been plenty of critics - even among some of Childress' competitors.
"To have someone say, 'Well, I'm sorry because your lifestyle is different from mine, I'm not going to take care of you and help you. And I don't want your business,' it's wrong on so many levels," said Dana Schaub, a local baker told KCCI.
Childress said she was simply stating her belief.
"I was not rude," she said. "I was not condescending. It was matter-of-fact. I told them, 'I'm sorry, I just can't do that.'"
Todd Starnes is the host of Fox News & Commentary, heard daily on Fox News Radio stations around the nation. He is the author of "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick" and the upcoming "Dispatches From Bitter America." This article first appeared at www.toddstarnes.com. Used by permission.
Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net