Free to Believe

David and Lily Stockton

Just Cookies: Indianapolis, Indiana

In September 2010, Just Cookies owners David and Lily Stockton declined a special bakery order for "National Coming Out Day" at Indiana University (IU). They politely explained to the caller that they didn't feel comfortable making rainbow-colored treats for a group that endorses homosexuality.  As a father, David said he wanted to set the right example for his two daughters and stand by his moral beliefs. 

His wife Lily explained that anyone is welcome to come to the store and buy cookies from their shelves.  "I don't ask people about their sexual orientation," Lily Stockton told the Indianapolis Star after the caller, Heather Brown, started a campaign to get Just Cookies evicted from the City Market.  Brown, who works as the "social justice coordinator" at IU, complained that it was "intolerant" to turn down her request.  With the help of liberal groups, she triggered an investigation by Mayor Greg Ballard's Office of Equal Opportunity.  "This could be grounds for taking away their stand in the market," said the president of the City Market Board. "...[W]e can't tolerate discrimination like that," he insisted. 

The Stocktons maintained they were well within their legal bounds to decline an order that would make them a public part of celebration they disagreed with, but one of the few locals who spoke out against the family said that taking this kind of stand is not "smart business."  But the Indiana Family Institute indicated that local support became so overwhelming that the Stocktons sold out of cookies and at least two conservative legal groups offered to defend the freedom of Just Cookies in court. 

In this case, the controversy was defused when two co-sponsors of the human rights ordinance the Stocktons were accused of violating, as well as two leading Indiana homosexual activists, wrote a letter to the Indianapolis Star declaring their belief that “it exceeds the intent of the ordinance to force a small business owner to support a political initiative he or she opposes.”

In December 2010, a settlement was reached in which the Stocktons were not punished, but agreed to post a notice in their shop that they do not do special orders of any kind. 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Fox 59