Lesbian couple: Bakery refused to make our wedding cake

Published: Aug. 1, 2015 at 12:30 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2015 at 1:21 AM CDT
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HOUMA, LA (WVUE) - A controversy over possible discrimination is cooking up in Houma after a same-sex couple says a bakery refused to make their wedding cake.

"Everyone has been wonderful, and then I call to order a cake," Sarah Matherne said.

Matherne said this week she contacted Caro's Bakery on Bayou Blue Road and was treated fairly until the business realized the cake was for her and her partner's wedding.

"They had an appointment available and immediately asked for the bride's name," she said. "I told her who it was. It was obviously a female name, and then she asked for the groom's name. That's when I told her it was two brides and that her name was Jenita. I was excited. I was ordering my wedding cake and she said 'No, we don't do that.'"

The refusal angered Matherne because her partner has previously ordered cakes from Caro's, but now the couple feels their money is unwanted because of their sexual preference.

"I'm reminded that people don't like us. People don't like us being able to get married," Matherne said.

The owner of Caro's did not want to talk about the issue and did not respond when asked if he refuses service to same-sex couples. The owner said he was advised by a lawyer not to comment.

Last month, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to get married. But in Louisiana, refusing someone service due to their sexual preference is legal except in New Orleans or Shreveport. Those cities passed ordinances against discrimination against gays and lesbians.

"It may be legally permissible for a business to do this, but it's wrong," Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said.

Esman called the bakery's business practice discrimination, but she said the couple has no right to sue for discrimination because same-sex couples have no rights protecting them in this case, according to state law.

"Sexual orientation does not yet have that protection, and it leaves people vulnerable," Esman said.

The Louisiana ACLU is pushing state lawmakers to give gay and lesbian couples protection against possible discrimination.

"It was because it was two women, and for whatever reason they weren't going to provide a cake for people like us," Matherne said. "So for me it was new. I'm getting a much better understanding of what needs to happen, because it's going to happen if someone doesn't stop it."

Matherne and her partner, Jenita Billiot, say the wedding will go on as planned but with a cake baked by someone else.

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