The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a $135,000 fine against two Christian bakers, who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Melissa and Aaron Klein filed a petition to overturn a ruling by the state’s labor commissioner, claiming it was a violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution to freedom of religion and expression.
The Kleins were forced to close their bakery after being ordered to pay the severe fine. The case stems from 2013, when the Klein’s declined to make a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries immediately found the Kleins in violation of a 2007 state law that protects the rights of LGTBQ individuals. Aaron Klein claimed their request violated his religious convictions. Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer applauded the ruling through a statement released by their attorney, stating
“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 not allow a ‘Straight Couples Only’ sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.”
The First Liberty Institute represented the Kleins. That organizatin released a statement by its CEO, Kelly Shackelford, expressing disappointment with the court’s decision:
“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 case could now go to the Oregon Supreme Court.
Following this controversial decision, the Kleins say they continue to receive threats for their stand, telling The Blaze they
“still get emails every once in a while out of the blue that are just saying horrible things to us.”
After shutting down their store, they now sell their products solely online. The couple would like to open up another store. But they believe it would bea near impossibility in Oregon.
The Oregon court’s decision comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a similar case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case involves a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips. Like the Kleins, Phillips refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision on this case in June.