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Rob Cochran is a local civil rights activist in Portland, Oregon. We got a little intoxicated and we discussed his actions against the local business Sweet Cakes Bakery. Cochran is a gay man who has spent much of the last few years dedicating his life to social issues, and this was something he felt he had to act against. What happened in the nearby town of Gresham is something that made us both angrier than veil in a claustrophobic cage.

Recently, he explained, the people of Sweet Cakes Bakery were approached by a mother and daughter who had purchased a wedding cake from the bakery sometime before for the mother, and they were prepared to buy another. This time the cake was not for the heterosexual mother, but for the homosexual daughter and her partner. The two of them spent a good amount of time picking out the design of the cake, and getting all of the details in order with the bakery. Once everything had been chosen, Cochran told me, the salesman asked the name of the groom and the bride. Upon learning that it was in fact two brides, the owner refused to make the cake.

This couple has since filed a claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industry, because it is illegal in Oregon to refuse service to someone based on their sexual orientation. Cochran explained that the business owners contacted the press, because they felt they were being discriminated against for their religious beliefs. Unfortunately for them, they have not particularly enjoyed some of the press they have been getting- outside of Fox News of course.

The owner of this business was not apologetic for his actions, and he in fact bragged before cameras that his business has never been better since the incident. Cochran led a protest against the bakery. “My own moral ethics demanded that I do something about this,” he stated. Cochran and 60 other people protested outside Sweet Cakes, and a lot of the locals came to support them. “The owners of Sweet Bettys, a local restaurant, sent out coffee,” he explained, “another business sent pizza.” A local preacher who came by wasn’t so impressed and began to verbally confront the crowd. The crowd let the man speak, “don’t be baited” Cochran told them. The preacher later settled down and actually agreed with Cochran’s sign, which stated: “We are all free to choose our actions, but we are not free from the consequences.” The preacher later revealed his ex-wife and daughter were both lesbians.

Sweet Cakes offered to buy the protesters lunch by the end of the day, explaining that they were Christians and wanted to be kind. Cochran retorted: “If they want to be kind, then they shouldn’t discriminate.” Needless to say, they denied the lunch.

Cochran, like me, made a mental connection between this event and the sit-ins of African Americans not so long ago. “If nobody had demonstrated against that, we would still have ‘separate but equal’ rules in the United States, and whites-only establishments.” Much like refusing service to folks of a different race, refusing service to homosexuals is illegal, not to mention it’s just god damn rude. “Rosa Parks was born black,” the man from Sweet Cakes told Cochran. “I was born gay,” he responded. Cochran quickly gave up on trying to convince this thick-headed fool that being gay is not a choice, just like this man had not chosen to be straight.

In 1960, the Greensboro sit-ins proved that separate is not equal, when four African American men sat at the white-only lunch counter of the Woolworth’s restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina, and went there every day for six months until they were eventually served. The same is happening today. Having religious freedom does not give anyone the right to openly discriminate on the behalf of whatever god they believe in. I am certainly not allowed to discriminate based on my beliefs in the holy god of booze and literature, Charles Bukowski, and I would be hard pressed to find a sane human being that thinks I should be allowed to.

“As long as you’re doing business in the general public, you have the follow the laws of Oregon, otherwise there are consequences for this,” he said. “No one’s forcing you to be in the business of making wedding cakes.” Cochran is advocating one plan of sending in same-sex couples to try to order cakes from this business, and every time they are turned down because of their sexual orientation, Oregon law requires that the business be fined $50,000. If all goes well, Sweet Cakes should certainly learn the consequences of their actions. “They have to be prepared to buy that fucking wedding cake,” he jests, if they are permitted service.

Cochran pointed out that the “right to refuse service” does not include actions that are against the law. The owner has flaunted the Chick-fil-A effect of improved business from this, but like Chick-fil-A, he will lose. This business will have to sell a cake to every bigot in the state to pay off such fines, and it seems unlikely he will be able to do so. When you go into business in a state, you are going to business with the whole state, not just the customers that agree with your absurd beliefs of a great overseer in the sky.

“It would send a strong message to businesses that would do this, discriminate like this, that you can’t do this, and if you do you’re going to ruin yourself,” Cochran said, hoping for this action to teach these people a lesson. When asked if this man should be sodomized for his actions, Cochran replied: “He’s got tattoos and ear rings; he looks like any dude you’d see walking around Southeast Portland. I’d fuck him.” I have to assume that knowing the kind of person that this is, he wouldn’t actually fuck him, but sometimes a good hate fuck is just what you need.

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