European court declines to take pro-gay marriage cake case

Analysis on Litigation

A top European court declined Thursday to rule in a high-profile discrimination case centered on an activist’s request to have a cake decorated with the “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie and the words “Support Gay Marriage.”

The European Court of Human Rights said the case was inadmissible because activist Gareth Lee had failed to “exhaust domestic remedies” in his case against a Northern Ireland bakery.

It was the latest ruling in a long-running legal battle that began in 2014 when Ashers Baking Co. refused to make the cake Lee wanted.

The owners argued they were happy to bake goods for anyone but would not put messages on their products at odds with their Christian beliefs.

Lee said he was frustrated the case was thrown out on what he called “a technicality” and said that freedom of expression “must equally apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.”

He originally ordered the cake to support a campaign to allow same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland. The campaign succeeded when Britain’s Parliament stepped in to bring the region into line with the rest of the country. Two women who tied the knot in February 2020 became the first gay couple to wed in Northern Ireland.

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USCIS to Continue Implementing New Policy Memorandum on Notices to Appear

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is continuing to implement the June 28, 2018, Policy Memorandum (PM), Updated Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens (PDF, 140 KB).

USCIS may issue NTAs as described below based on denials of I-914/I-914A, Application for T Nonimmigrant Status; I-918/I-918A, Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status; I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Violence Against Women Act self-petitions and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petitions); I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions when the beneficiary is present in the US; I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant; and I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (with the underlying form types listed above).

If applicants, beneficiaries, or self-petitioners who are denied are no longer in a period of authorized stay and do not depart the United States, USCIS may issue an NTA. USCIS will continue to send denial letters for these applications and petitions to ensure adequate notice regarding period of authorized stay, checking travel compliance, or validating departure from the United States.