'Gay Wedding Cakes': More Than Just a Dessert

By Shelby Clark Petkus

The "gay wedding cake" has practically become a symbol in the climb to same-sex marriage. From Religious Freedom Restoration Acts to grassroots "Protect Religious Freedom" movements, segments of the United States population have worked to put a stop to same-sex weddings both before and after Obergefell v. Hodges (the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court Case that made same-sex marriage legal in the country). The primary method these people seem to use is to cut vendor ties -- officiants have backed out from performing ceremonies last minute, reception halls have denied service, and perhaps most famously, bakers have failed to bake wedding cakes.

One such major case was with Aaron and Melissa Klein of Oregon's Sweet Cakes by Melissa. They turned away a lesbian couple in 2013 who wanted a wedding cake. "I believe marriage is a religious institution ordained by God," Aaron claimed. The women filed discrimination complaints, and the Kleins were found to have violated the state's anti-discrimination laws. The bakers were fined $135,000 and ended up closing their business; the couple was awarded damages.

The news story went viral, often being noted as what LGBT couples were up against in attempts to get married before marriage was legal in their state, let alone recognized federally. Now, while hurdles to being treated fairly remain for many same-sex couples, LGBT people looking to get married can look to a future of more inclusive vendors -- including at The Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo at Motor City Casino in Detroit Sunday, March 20. Inclusive vendors -- including bakers like Good Cakes and Bakes, Sweet Dreams Bakery and Browndog Creamery & Desserts -- will be available to help present one of the traditional focal points of a wedding: the cake (and the cake cutting!)

One of the most talked about things after a wedding is the cake. Was it good? Bad? Was it a sheet cake from a grocery store? Was there even cake?

There are several ways to make sure your cake is remembered fondly, but the best way? Make it "gay."

1. Use a gay(-friendly) baker

BTL offers their Pride Source Yellow Pages to help you track down an accepting baker who works in Michigan. Check out this resource at www.pridesource.com/directory.html, or do "in person" cake tastings at BTL's Same-Sex Wedding & Anniversary Expo March 20.

2. Rainbow

Though it may seem like an obvious move, incorporating the all-inclusive coloring of the LGBT rainbow can be a "tasteful" nod to LGBT rights and culture. Many bakers are familiar with the concept of "layering" different colored batter on top of each other to form the multi-color layers. If you're making the cake yourself, look into the many tutorials online for "patterned" cakes. Brightly colored cake a bit too much? Opt for the subtleness of multicolored blossoms to accent a traditionally white or ivory cake.

3. Invest in same-sex wedding toppers

Don't get turned off from the heteronormative offerings from many mainstream wedding vendors -- multiple options exist online. Check out Etsy for independent artists who can make toppers that look like you and your partner. TwoBrides.com and TwoGrooms.com are also good resources for same-sex wedding toppers. Otherwise, check out vendors at BTL's Same-Sex Wedding & Anniversary Expo March 20, where everyone from halls to wedding vendors may provide options for your cake top. Otherwise, a monogram of your initials, a bunch of flowers, or other "non-human" toppers are always an option.

4. Nix the groom's cake

The groom's cake originated in Victorian England and made its way to the American South before taking over the whole U.S. wedding market in recent years. The groom's cake essentially served as the cake to be cut for groomsmen and bridesmaids. If you bristle at the term "groom," plan on going without attendants or if you see no reason to keep up this tradition, stick with the main wedding cake. Or alter the tradition even further - include two groom's cakes or two bride's cakes. After all, who doesn't want more cake?

5. Nix the cake completely

Many LGBT couples choose to go the non-traditional route after years of the term "traditional marriage" being used to take away LGBT rights. In light of more offbeat ventures, such as different clothing, food and ceremonies, try changing up the tradition of cake, too! Opt for more individual items, such as cupcakes or cake pops for guests, or break away from cake altogether: Pies, donuts and donut holes are some of the many different choices landing on LGBT wedding dessert tables. Vendors like Jeff Zak's Catering are particularly skilled in this venture -- check them and other cake and dessert vendors at BTL's Same-Sex Wedding & Anniversary Expo March 20.


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