Free to Believe

Victoria Childress

Victoria’s Cake Cottage: Des Moines, Iowa

In the fall of 2011, when two women identifying as lesbians asked Victoria Childress to make their wedding cake, she politely refused. The owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage in Des Moines, Iowa said she had made several cakes for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers to taste, unaware that they were a couple. “She introduced herself,” Childress told Fox News & Commentary, “and I said, ‘Is this your sister?’  She said, ‘No, this is my partner.’”  At that point, Childress indicated that she could not, in good conscience, make their wedding cake.  “I was straight-forward with them and explained that I’m a Christian, and that I have very strong [beliefs].” 

When Vodraska and Sievers went to the press with their story, gay activists launched a boycott and hateful emails. In a statement published by KCCI on November 14, 2011, Vodraska and Sievers said, "Awareness of equality was our only goal in bringing this to light, it is not about cake or someone's right to refuse service to a customer. We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received and hope that by stepping forward we have prevented someone else from experiencing the same type of bigotry."

But Childress maintained that her goal was “not to discriminate against them.” In a TV interview Childress explained, “As I keep saying, it’s not so much to do with them as it’s to do with me and my walk with God and what I will have to answer for.” Childress continued, “I was not rude. I was not condescending. It was matter-of-fact. I told them, ‘I’m sorry, I just can’t do that.’”

The couple told the television station they had not decided whether they would file a Civil Rights complaint against the baker. In a November 19, 2011 piece by the Advocate, Vodraska and Sievers said they wished “to move beyond this unfortunate incident.”

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