Update at the bottom.
A store refused to bake a “Trump 2016” cake for a Louisiana girl’s 18th birthday. When called out on it, an official spokesperson said the employee just misunderstood the limits of copyright law.
On Monday, 17-year-old McKenzie Gill went to the Albertsons in Bossier City, Louisiana, and asked the bakery for a birthday cake. She had chosen a Donald Trump theme for her 18th birthday party, so she requested an American flag cake with “Trump 2016” on it. She left the store confused.
“Just left Albertsons. The woman behind the cake counter just refused to make me a birthday cake because I wanted Trump 2016 on it. Did that really just happen,” she said in a brief Facebook post. The post has been shared 235 times.
“I think the woman brought her political beliefs into her area of business, but there is no way I can tell what she was thinking,” Gill told PJ Media. “I felt like she insulted my opinion. I was denied service based on her prejudice against Donald Trump.”
“My goal was not to make a political statement, my goal was to place an order for a cake,” she added. “The woman brought the politics into this situation by denying service to a customer because of her personal beliefs.”
Gill told KSLA’s Marie Waxel on Tuesday that she never expected the Facebook status to go viral. She recalled going into the store with her mother.
“We need an American flag cake with ‘Trump 2016’ on it,” and right when I said Trump, like the lady kinda just [rolls her eyes] “Trump?” She was like, “I definitely, I can make you a flag cake but I’m not going to write ‘Trump’ on it.”
“Trump is just someone I really look up to,” she said.
Gill reportedly decided to take her order elsewhere, after notifying store officials.
“It’s your job, we’re not really going for your opinion on what you think of the candidates, we were just wanting ‘Trump 2016’ on the cake,” she said.
“We apologize to our customer in Bossier City for the situation regarding the cake that was requested,” Albertsons spokesperson Connie Yeates said in a statement. “Our Bakery staff member misunderstood the training provided regarding copyrighted phrases, and incorrectly informed the customer we could not fulfill her request. We would be happy to provide the cake as the customer requested.”
There seems to be a disconnect between the two stories: either the staffer refused to bake the cake due to revulsion about Trump, or she refused because she thought such an act would violate copyright law.
When asked about this explanation, Gill said she did not believe it. “She never mentioned copyrights, and I can almost guarantee that was not on her mind. The copyright situation did not come up until much later.”
UPDATE: Interestingly, while the company has told media outlets that they “would be happy to provide the cake,” Gill told PJ Media she has “never been personally contacted.” She noted that her mom left her name and number with the store, and has not yet received a call.
For this reason, even though Albertsons admitted fault, Gill does not feel vindicated by their decision. “I feel like they have admitted that an error was made,” she said. She recalled seeing “reports that they have offered a cake to the ‘bossier parish customer’ via news channels,” but has heard nothing from the company herself.
Next Page: Why this case is nothing like the Oregon bakery which denied a same-sex wedding cake.
Gill herself compared the case to Christian bakeries refusing to make a wedding cake for homosexual couples. “Even though my birthday and the gay couples wedding is [sic] two totally different subjects, the principle of denial in the situation is exactly the same. I admit that it doesn’t take a cake to have a birthday, but it also doesn’t take a cake to have a gay wedding either. There is no difference in principle. We were both denied service.”
Yet the differences are nonetheless important. In the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein in Oregon, the bakery was run on Christian principles. Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. The state’s bureaucracy ruled that their refusal was discrimination, and gave them a $135,000 fine. In that case, the Kleins had a religious objection to serving a cake because they believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Another bakery volunteered to make the cake for free.
In this case, Albertsons acknowledged the mistake and offered to bake the cake. There was no religious objection, and Albertsons is a large company that does not hold a religious objection to Donald Trump.
The woman who rejected Gill may have decided baking a cake with Trump’s name on it violated her free speech rights, but chances are there wasn’t just one worker in the bakery. Unless Albertsons itself has a principled objection to Trump’s name, the denial was a mistake, not a defense of free speech.
Gill also admitted these important differences. “I would compare this situation by saying that both were asked to make a cake they disagreed with, I would contrast this by saying the bakery that denied the wedding cake was personally owned and operated, which gives them rights,” while “the bakery that denied my birthday cake is owned and operated by Cerberus Capital Management.”
This is a clean-cut case — the situation is over. There was no Louisiana bureaucracy ruling against Albertsons or fining them hundreds of thousands of dollars. This was not institutional discrimination, but a simple snafu, however insulting to Gill.
Check out the video on the next page.