Oregon Baker Refused to Make Wedding Cake; Court Rejects Religious Argument

Posted December 30, 2017

Under Oregon law, businesses can not refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they can not turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion.

The Kleins argued that a liberal labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, violated their religious rights and free speech rights when he imposed the staggering fine for causing emotional distress to the lesbian couple.

Following the incident, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found the Kleins in violation of a 2007 state law that protects the rights of LGBTQ people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

"Obviously this is a blow for the Constitution and the rule of law in this country, and I think it's a sad day in this country when people can be punished for their religious beliefs", says Mike Berry, the attorney at First Liberty who represents the Kleins.

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Attorneys for the Kleins said they are reviewing the decision to see if they will continue with a further appeal.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, who closed the cake shop in October 2016, appealed the fine to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries in March.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer's mother returned later to reason with Aaron Klein, who then said her daughter and her fiancé were "abominations". All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. "OR will not allow a "Straight Couples Only" sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores". "It's definitely had its toll on them", Aaron Klein said.

Any Oregon employer seeking to navigate the Oregon Equality Act or other civil rights protections can contact BOLI's Technical Assistance for Employers with questions at (971) 673-0824.

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"Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others". The Kleins have directed us to no evidence whatsoever that ORS 659A.403 was enacted for the objective of singling out religiously motivated action, or that BOLI has selectively targeted religion in its enforcement of the statute.

The case will likely now be appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.

The bakery case is one of many disputes nationwide since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

What does the lesbian couple have to say about the latest decision?

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