When April Anderson first saw the cake order that was placed on her bakery's website last month, she noticed the word PRIDE in all capital letters.
Anderson, who is openly gay and has baked up treats like her lemon velvet cake on TODAY, co-owns Good Cakes and Bakes in Detroit, Michigan with her wife, Michelle. She had just spent the month of June baking intricate rainbow cakes with vibrant colors for customers wanting to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. At first glance, Anderson thought this was simply a late order.
Then she read the rest of the message: "I am ordering this cake to celebrate and have PRIDE in true Christian marriage," the customer said on the order form. "I’d like you to write on the cake, in icing, 'Homosexual acts are gravely evil. (Catholic Catechism 2357)."
"I said wait a minute and I handed my phone to Michelle and said, 'Can you believe we got this order?'" Anderson told TODAY Food.
Anderson said she called her friend Eli Majid to tell him about the order. Majid, who owns Eli's Tea Bar in Birmingham, a Detroit suburb, started his social media sleuthing to find out more about the customer who ordered the cake.
He was identified as David Gordon, who is listed as "a copyeditor @Church Militant, Lawyer, theology MA, author, sportsman, family man," according to his Twitter profile.
Anderson said she thought about whether she should bake the cake and decided she did not want to refuse Gordon service.
"I didn’t mind making the cake, but I also felt his purpose in ordering the cake was he wanted to troll us and to say we were being discriminatory to him. That’s exactly what he wanted," she said. "I know there have been cases where LGBTQ have sued bakeries for not making wedding cakes and all the courts say if you provide a service, you can’t discriminate. We make cakes. I can’t discriminate and say I won’t make the cake, but I can choose not to write homophobic comments."
Additionally, Anderson said her company has an existing policy to not write messages on cakes for online orders, even if it's something as benign as "Happy 90th birthday, Grandma Dorothy."
On July 24, the day before Gordon was scheduled to pick up his cake, Anderson said he called the bakery to make sure it would be ready at 3:30 p.m. the following day.
“He was expecting us to say we are not going to make the cake, so when we said we were going to make it, it probably shocked him," Anderson said.
Majid, however, wanted to make sure Gordon would be met with a sea of people wearing bright colors supporting Anderson and her wife. He made a social media post that circulated in the community.
“I was like Eli! Oh my Lord. Once we knew more about the guy, I didn’t want it to be a confrontation," Anderson said.
About "40 to 45" people showed up outside the bakery Saturday afternoon. Gordon never picked up his cake. Anderson said she called him at 4 p.m. to let him know his cake was ready and that the bakery closes at 6 p.m.
Five days later, after the cake had been thrown away, Anderson said she received a call from Gordon asking when he could pick up his cake. She informed him it had been thrown away and declined to give him a refund, since the bakery's policy is that customers must pick up their orders within 48 hours.
Anderson said she told Gordon he could place another order, and if he wanted a message, he could order in person or email her personally. She said would consider putting a message on a cake ordered online if it was something positive like "Great work, team!"
Gordon declined to speak on the record with TODAY. In a tweet on August 7, he addressed his controversial cake order.
"Good Cakes and Bakes is discriminating against me for requesting a cake virtually quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church sec. 2357. No more anti-Catholic discrimination. See you in court," he wrote.
Section 2357 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to homosexual acts as "contrary to the natural law" and marriage as between a man and a woman. But Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has taken a modern interpretation in an effort to create a more inclusive church.
"If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” he said in July 2013. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society."
Anderson said she would have been happy to serve Gordon, but she wouldn't have written the hateful message even if he had placed the order in person — and it's not even about homophobia, she said.
"We were not being discriminatory. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs," Anderson said. "We aren't here to judge, but we do promote our bakery as a place of inclusion, acceptance and peace and love, so I wouldn’t write any type of message that would cause hurt to people."