Court rules against OR bakers who refused to make gay wedding cake

  • Court rules against OR bakers who refused to make gay wedding cake

Court rules against OR bakers who refused to make gay wedding cake

An Oregon state appeals court Thursday let stand $135,000 in damages levied against the owners of a Portland-area bakery for discrimination after they refused on religious grounds to prepare a wedding cake for a local lesbian couple.

The Oregon Appeals Court, however, sided with the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) in determining that the Kleins are not entitled to accommodation from the nondiscrimination law.

"Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others", First Liberty Institute president Kelly Shackelford said.

The decision against the Kleins comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips.

The court also rejected the theory (which is being pushed by some advocates in the Masterpiece case as well) that heightened scrutiny is appropriate in a Free Exercise case if other rights - like, here, Free Speech - are also implicated.

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.

On Thursday, almost five years after the incident that ignited the case, the Oregon Court of Appeals sided with the state and upheld the penalty against the Kleins. "It's definitely had its toll on them", Aaron Klein said.

"All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally", the couple said.

Melissa Klein positioned earlier this year that the bakery did not discriminate against the lesbian couple, whom they had served before their wedding cake request, and only asks for the right to be allowed not to participate in a gay wedding. A broad religious exemption to this law would permit any business to deny service to anyone, rendering Oregon's protections against discrimination meaningless.

When Aaron Klein found out the cake was for two brides, he told Bowman-Cryer he and his wife did not make cakes for same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs.

The couple said they moved to OR because the state stands strong for equality and they are proud to raise their daughters where people believe in dignity and respect.

The state fined the bakers after determining they violated a 2007 OR law that protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Through tears, Klein said she poured her heart and passion into each cake and designed each one to fit each couple perfectly. "We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build".