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Disappointing actions by a few don't define Gresham

Oh! What a disappointing week this has been for news in Gresham.

At one end of the spectrum, we have the owners of a Gresham bakery who callously demonstrated their insensitivity toward gays and lesbians by refusing to sell a same-sex couple a wedding cake, thereby anointing themselves as “morality police.”

At the other end of the spectrum, we have the owner — he’s really the most visible partner — of Gresham’s Best Burger, who spent the better part of January in jail for violating terms of his probation on sex offenses involving children. Certainly a person worthy of being policed.

We think it’s fair to point out that these isolated incidents do not reflect the beliefs or behavior of the overwhelming majority of Gresham businesses. To the contrary, Gresham’s merchants continue to serve people without regard to race, religion or sexual orientation; and provide safe environments for children.

As far as John Cartisser goes — the visible partner at Best Burger — we genuinely support people who pay the price for their crimes and who take the necessary steps to become healthy, happy and productive members of their communities. By all accounts, that’s what Cartisser was doing. But that changed the instant we learned Cartisser had violated terms of his probation.

Cartisser pleaded no-contest in 2010 to a charge of first-degree attempted sex abuse stemming from charges that involved a girl who was 5 and 6 years old at the time. He also had pleaded guilty in 2004 to a charge of third-degree sex abuse involving a 16-year-old girl.

His probation violations are disturbing: failure to notify his probation officer that his business had moved to a place where he was in routine contact with children; frequenting a bar or tavern; and consuming alcohol. His behavior demonstrates a disregard for the severity of his past actions.

We don’t know how this will influence the longevity of Best Burger, but what we do know is that Cartisser’s probation violations have put the jobs of Best Burger employees at risk. That’s an unfortunate consequence, especially for a business that has been one of the rising stars in West Gresham. Best Burger employees had nothing to do with this. We hope they come out of this unscathed. But sadly, this all could have been avoided had Cartisser simply communicated with his probation officer.

As for the now-infamous wedding cake denial at Sweet Cakes by Melissa, there isn’t much more to say, except to remind other business owners that opening a business does not relieve anyone of compliance with anti-discrimination laws. And even if this were an issue of personal freedom, we would strongly advocate on the side of kindness, sensitivity and inclusion.

For anyone wanting a concise, sane perspective on the Sweet Cakes foolishness, they should read the letter to the editor by Nancy Molina of Gresham (see the letter below). Like Molina says, perhaps we could all do with a little less judgment and a whole lot more patience for our differences.

Jesus taught love, not cruelty

Someone needs to make the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa and their supporters in Gresham aware of Jesus’ teaching that the most important acts we do as Christians should reflect love of God and our fellow human beings.

He also warned about the error in arrogantly usurping God’s prerogative to judge, in light of our own imperfections.

If people feel homosexual acts are wrong, by all means they should refrain from doing them. But people with a robust faith don’t feel threatened by the acceptance of gays and lesbians, who as God’s creatures are equally worthy of love.

To invoke Jesus’ name to justify acting cruelly is contrary to scripture and, it seems to me, an especially perilous violation of the commandment to love. Possibly the bakery owners felt compelled to take a stand for their brand of moral purity, but really, it’s just a cake.

Nancy Molina, Gresham




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