Letha and Wendy Pugh, the owners of gluten-free bakery Bake Me Happy in Columbus, Ohio, understand that when it comes to owning and operating a business, you can be both artistically expressive and continue to serve the needs of all your customers.
“As small business owners, we have a responsibility to be inclusive when we provide service,” says Letha. “From a bar mitzvah to a christening — you name the event, we’ve made a cake for it. What we do is artistic, but it isn’t a personal statement. There’s a boundary between what your beliefs are and what you’re serving; our customers aren’t asking for our personal opinion. These are business transactions, and all along, their personal taste is guiding the designs and statement that is made.”
Letha’s comments directly confront an argument put forward by anti-LGBTQ activists and the bakery at the center of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, currently awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Anti-LGBTQ activists say that if a business owner sells a product, such as a cake, to a same-sex couple, the business is implicitly endorsing and participating in a wedding between a same-sex couple, violating their religious freedom. As Letha outlines so succinctly – when you are in the business of selling goods or services to customers, you are in no way endorsing everything or anything about that customer.
Together for 12 years and married in March 2017, and with daughter Avery, 7, Letha and Wendy are proud of the success of their bakery as well as their reputation for providing consistent, quality work, all the while being fully inclusive.
“The bakery has become a destination on the South Side. The product is a testament to how much love and energy all the bakers put into it. We’ve grown from 1 to 11 employees — everyone puts their effort into a great product. For us, at the end of the day, the goal is to have served all of our customers with respect, regardless of their personal lives. Being open to everyone is a responsible business choice as well as the right thing to you.”
Bake Me Happy is a proud member of Ohio Business Competes, the coalition of over 300 businesses and growing that have signed on in support of the Ohio Fairness Act, legislation that would provide comprehensive statewide nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Their advocacy for LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections is in line with the views of more than 1,200 small business owners who are a part of Small Businesses Against LGBTQ Discrimination, a program of Freedom for All Americans. Learn more about the coalition here.
Visit Bake Me Happy at https://www.bakemehappygf.com/