Ashers Baking Company has sent a message of thanks to thousands of supporters in Northern Ireland who have backed them through the ‘gay cake’ court case.
The letter comes as the family continues to consider further legal options with their advisors.
Last month the Ashers Baking Company lost its case in the Court of Appeal in Belfast which rejected the firm’s appeal against a ruling which said that the business broke the law by declining to decorate a cake with a pro-gay marriage campaign slogan.
It followed the decision in May 2015 when District Judge Brownlie ruled that Ashers Baking Company broke sexual orientation and political discrimination laws.
The McArthur family, who own and run Ashers, turned down the order because it conflicted with their Christian belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
In the letter sent to churches and individual supporters who backed the stance of the family-run bakery, Daniel McArthur, Ashers’ general manager, wrote:
“Dear Brother/Sister, I write to say how thankful we are for your prayerful support at this time. It has been our joy to take a small stand for Christ and to have opportunities to witness for Him in the public spotlight and we have many people to thank for how they have been an encouragement to us.
“Above all we give God thanks for how He has brought us through all our difficulties and spread his wings over us. Despite the judgment delivered last week, we do not feel defeated or dismayed.”
The lengthy and costly legal action, which has cost over £200,000 was brought by the taxpayer-funded Equality Commission for NI.
In its judgement the Court of Appeal judges recognised the fact that the family did not refuse the service because Mr Lee was gay, but nonetheless ruled that refusing the order because of its slogan “was direct discrimination”.
In his letter Mr McArthur concludes:
“We believe that this judgment is part of God’s will and through it He will bring glory to Himself. We take comfort in knowing that our God is sovereign and rules over all the earth. Please continue to pray for us as we look to God for guidance in response to this judgment. ”
The Christian Institute has backed the case, which they believe demonstrates the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly-held beliefs.
CI spokesman Simon Calvert said: “It has been an inspirational privilege to stand with Daniel and his family as they consider the recent decision and options they may now have in the future.”