Back in 2013, a small Oregon bakery rocked the nation when it refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding citing their religious beliefs as the reason for their refusal.
The owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, argued that a state exemption for religious organizations and schools allowed them to refuse service to Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer. They were later fined by the Bureau of Labor and Industries for over $135,000 as a result.
‘The agency said a state exemption for religious organizations and schools does not allow private business owners to deny service to potential customers because of sexual orientation.’
‘The legal team behind Sweet Cakes by Melissa argued the labor bureau violated the Kleins’ rights as artists to free speech, their rights as Oregonians to religious freedom and their rights as defendants to a due process.
‘They also argue the fine was excessive and that Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, who praised an LGBTQ advocacy group on Facebook the year before the hearing, should have recused himself.’
That was back in 2016. Now after a year, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled the fine did not violate any of the Kleins’ rights nor was it excessive and therefore upheld the fine.
In a statement from Laurel and Rachel, they applauded the decision.
‘In Oregon, business that are open to the public are open to all. With this ruling, the Court of Appeals has upheld the long-standing idea that discrimination has no place in America.
‘Fifty years ago, this great nation had to decide whether “separate but equal” was a foundation upon which we could remain. We decided that all people deserve the right to be treated equally under the law. Now, Oregon’s laws ensures that people previously subject to discrimination can go about their lives without worrying whether they will be turned away from a story because of who they are or who they love.
‘Without this ruling, businesses could determine who they serve. Granting a business like Sweet Cakes a right to turn away customers in violation of nondiscrimination laws would create a sweeping license to discriminate and have far-reaching, damaging consequences.
‘All Oregonians can now go into any store and expect to be treated just like any other person. It does not matter how you were born or who you love. All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. Oregon will now allow a “Straight Couples Only” sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.’
According to NBC, The First Liberty Institute represented the Kleins and released this statement.
‘Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein are not entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free speech. In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We are disappointed that the court ruled against the Kleins.’
The state labor commissioner Brad Avakian said in a statement:
‘Today’s ruling sends a strong signal that Oregon remains open to all.
‘Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the freedom to fully participate in society.’
featured image by David McNew/Getty Images.