Recently, Victoria Childress of Victoria’s Cake Cottage in Des Moines, Iowa refused to provide her professional services to a lesbian couple.

The couple had already invested time in communications with Childress, and Childress had them come to her business premises for a tasting. Only at the tasting did she realize that the customers were lesbian.  On the grounds that her “Christian” beliefs don’t permit her to bake a cake for a same sex wedding, she refused to proceed with the tasting.

Public discussion of Childress’s actions revolve mainly around whether people believe she had a “right” to discriminate as she did. The Family Research Council, for example, rushed to her defense, while attacking her critics. As part of its demented sexual orientation apartheid fantasy, which nowhere takes the law into account, the Family Research Council alleges that the protests of Childress’s discrimination are “about running Christians out of business.”

But what does the law say about Childress’s form of anti-gay discrimination? I contacted the Iowa Attorney General’s office about Iowa Code section 216.7(1).  See the full text of that section of the code below. The text appeared to make clear that Childress’s anti-lesbian discrimination in business was illegal. I asked the Attorney General’s office whether Childress’s discrimination was, in fact, illegal. Assistant Attorney General Teresa Baustian told me “Your reading of the Iowa Civil Rights statute is just as we would read it and apply it.”

The couple that suffered the illegal discrimination should file a police complaint and participate as complaining witnesses in a criminal case against Victoria Childress of Victoria’s Cake Cottage.

Here is the text of Iowa Code section 216.7(1):

Unfair practices – accommodations or services.

It shall be an unfair or discriminatory practice for any owner, lessee, sublessee, proprietor, manager or superintendent of any public accommodation or any agent or employee thereof:

a. To refuse or deny to any person because of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, religion or disability the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges thereof, or otherwise to discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability in the furnishing of such accommodations, advantages, facilities, services, or privileges.

b. To directly or indirectly advertise or in any other manner indicate or publicize that the patronage of persons of any particular race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability is unwelcome,


NOTE FROM PAM: Here is the statement from the couple about the incident:

Wedding cake incident has “brought too much pain into what should be a time of joy and happiness.”

Statement from Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers

Des Moines, IA—Last Thursday, Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers were denied services by Victoria Childress, owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage. Childress scheduled an appointment with the couple only to sit them down, chastise them about their sexual orientation, and to deny them a cake tasting for their upcoming wedding. In the wake of the incident, Childress has made multiple local and national media appearances.

Today, Vodraska and Sievers issued the following statement with the hope that they can move on from this hurtful experience and continue planning their wedding with their supportive family and friends:

“We have been a loving, committed couple for 8 years and on the day the Iowa Supreme Court granted us the freedom to marry, we got engaged. Ever since, we have been looking forward to our wedding day and have enjoyed making our wedding plans. What happened on Thursday was both disappointing and painful experience. We remain saddened by this incident and are grateful for the support we have received. We wish to put this situation behind us.

“As Christian women, we were hurt by Ms. Childress’ actions and statements. We are disappointed that she and others around her would use our wedding—the happiest day of our lives—as an opportunity to make personal, political, and financial gain.

Ms. Childress’ actions, both on the day of the incident and in her continued media appearances, have brought too much pain into what should be a time of joy and happiness. At this point, we only wish to move beyond this unfortunate incident. We are looking forward to our wedding next June and beyond to our life together.”

Contact: Molly Tafoya, o: 515.288.4019 x207, c: 808.256.7064molly@oneiowa.org