Court rules against bakers who refused to make gay wedding cake

Melissa and Aaron Klein

KPTV file image Melissa and Aaron Klein

Judge Chris Garrett wrote in his opinion that although Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, may have honest religious objections to making gay wedding cakes, people who are opposed to interracial marriages could also ask for the same exemptions, if granted.

The Kleins appealed the decision in March 2017, arguing the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries violated their rights as artists to free speech, their rights to religious freedom and their rights as defendants to a due process.

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer applauded the ruling through a statement released by their attorney.

The couple had no idea a simple item on their pre-wedding to-do list would end in such controversy.

The Oregon case involves a Gresham bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. Rachel Bowman-Cryer and her mother stopped by the shop for a tasting and to order the cake.

In 2013, the Kleins refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, claiming it would violate their religious beliefs as Christians.

Melissa Klein ended her online business as well.

But in their ruling Thursday, a panel of state appeals court judges sided with Avakian, saying the Kleins did, in fact, deny the Bowman-Cryers because they were lesbians.

The court sentenced the Christian couple to a fine of $135,000 for the "emotional damage" they had allegedly caused the lesbian pair.

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 would really depend", he says, "on how broad or narrow of a ruling the Supreme Court issues in that case".

The Sweet Cakes by Melissa decision comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a very similar case: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Paul Thompson, attorney for the Bowman-Cryers, said he will be watching that case closely.

They met with Aaron Klein, who asked for the date of the ceremony and the names of the bride and groom. "It's a great day for equality in OR".

Oregon's anti-discrimination law states that "all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or age". "OR will not allow a "Straight Couples Only" sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores", the couple stated.

A years-long legal battle ensued.

Donations poured in for the Kleins, who campaigned in Iowa with Ted Cruz at "Rally for Religous Liberty", and C. Boyden Gray, the former White House Counsel for George H.W. Bush, offered to represent the couple for free.

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