Cake fundraiser supports gay marriage as Supreme Court case involving Colorado baker looms

By Roxanne Roberts, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – Let them eat cake. Let everybody eat cake!

In the pastry world, wedding cakes are the epitome of love and celebration, not a political statement. But this is 2017, and even a cake can be controversial: This fall, the Supreme Court will hear the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple based on his religious beliefs.

Which brought us to a delicious counterprotest with the theme “Who Can Resist!” in the form of 18 multitiered cakes at Tuesday’s sixth annual Chefs for Equality party at Dock5 in Union Market in Washington, D.C.

“If you like cake and dessert and want to get married or celebrate anything, you should be able to get it – as long as you pay for it, right?” said Tressa Wiles of Bayou Bakery, who has created a cake for the event every year. Wiles says that she’s never turned down a cake order and is behind the Colorado couple 100 percent. “They wanted their damn cake, and they couldn’t get it. They just wanted to be happy and celebrate. This baker kind of ruined it for them,” she said.

Wiles made a blue-and-yellow cake – the colors of the Human Rights Campaign, host of the fundraiser – for this year’s party. The cakes were displayed along the back wall of the converted warehouse space, most of them variations on a rainbow: Multicolored hearts, flowers, and Fluffy Thoughts Cakes’ inventive play on cake as the ultimate dessert: an oversized purple layer cake topped with a slice of blueberry pie, a green macaron, a yellow pastry and a red cupcake – all rendered in cake, fondant and edible glitter.

This party was founded in 2012 when Washington food writer David Hagedorn teamed up with the HRC to benefit Maryland’s Question 6, the state’s same-sex marriage law. Hagedorn wanted the event to be fabulously chic, so he recruited Amaryllis Floral & Event Design, the Ritz-Carlton, and dozens of local chefs and bartenders to participate. They named the event Chefs for Equality – for marriage equality, but also for other issues facing the LGBTQ community.

The format was simple: a few tables for high-ticket dinners (now $10,000 to $30,000 a table) prepared by celebrity chefs, 50 or so tasting stations prepared by local restaurants, designer cocktails, live auctions, drag queens and dancing.

And wedding cakes – an entire wall of them, symbolizing both the purpose of the party and the optimism that same-sex marriage would be recognized nationwide.

The event was a success, and was held annually for the next four years with plenty to celebrate: The Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and in 2015 ruled that states could not ban same-sex marriage. Polls showed that public support for same-sex marriage was growing faster than anyone had dared dream.

And then Donald Trump was elected president, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a lawsuit to determine whether a business can deny service to same-sex couples based on religious beliefs.

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