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D'Iberville baker to politicians, Bryant: Enough is enough

D'IBERVILLE -- It all started with a quote about wedding cakes.

And for baker Jennifer Noble, enough is enough. Noble, who owns and operates Cheeky Monkey Cake Company in D'Iberville, said she is tired of bakers and cake-makers being brought into the debate over the creation and passage of HB 1523.

The new law will allow state business owners to legally discriminate against customers based on their religious beliefs. It was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Phil Bryant and will take effect July 1.

"The law was specifically designed for people in the wedding industry," Noble said. "If they have a religious objection to a same-sex union, this basically protects them from having a lawsuit brought against them.

"What's interesting is that us in the wedding industry, we never asked for their protection."

Issue in other states

In August, the Colorado Court of Appeals said bakers could not deny services to same-sex couples. This ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed in 2014 where a gay couple sued a bakery after being refused service. A similar suit was filed in Oregon where another bakery was sued over refusing to bake a gay couple's wedding cake.

No cases in Mississippi

But Noble said she knows of no similar cases in Mississippi. In fact, she said, she does not know of anyone in her industry who has openly denied services to same-sex couples.

"They've made it legal to violate someone's civil rights, and I disagree with that and I disagree with the lawmakers and politicians using our industry as a shield to push this agenda.

"I don't know anybody in the industry that has asked for them to speak for us and if someone does want that kind of protection, they aren't going to come out and say it because it would open them up to a lot of negativity.

"Cheeky Monkey has always provided services to anyone -- that's why we are in business."

No prying questions

Her bakery, she said, has never asked its clients about sexual preferences or religious beliefs.

"Absolutely not -- we don't do a survey of any kind of personal information -- I wouldn't do business with a place that asked me those questions," she said. "As a private business, I've always had the ability to deny services to someone if they wrote me a bad check, but I've never had the ability to deny service based on race, religion, creed or sexual orientation."

Cheeky Monkey has been commissioned to make a few cakes for Bryant, including an inauguration cake for his office on the Coast. Photos of Noble and her staff with Bryant and the cake, however, were removed from the bakery's Facebook page.

Will bake for Bryant

"Baking those cakes was a nice feather in the cap, and we were very happy for the business," Noble said. "But we took the photos down after the last incident when the federal government passed the gay-marriage law and Bryant backed back a court in the state that wanted to hold off on it."

And Noble said her same non-discriminatory policy holds true for Bryant.

"If he wanted a cake, we would make it for him, because he's a paying customer and that's what we are in business to do," she said. "But we book quickly, so he needs to call ahead and let us know."

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