Court upholds $135K fine against Sweet Cakes owners

31 December, 2017, 06:22 | Author: Marjorie Miles
  • Appeals court upholds fine against Christian bakers who refused to make same-sex wedding cake

The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery who in 2013 refused to design and bake a cake celebrating a lesbian couple's same-sex wedding. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian agreed, and in 2015 ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in damages.

The case stems from Aaron Klein's refusal to bake a wedding cake for Rachel Bowman-Cryer in January 2013 because she was planning a same-sex wedding to her partner Laurel, which he said violated his religious convictions.

The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 says businesses can not discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation - just as they can not turn away customers due to their race, sex, disability, age, or religion.

The Kleins appealed the ruling, but Thursday's decision was not in their favor.

"The Kleins seek an exemption based on their honest religious opposition to same-sex marriage; but those with honest religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption", the court said. The money from the judgment has sat in an escrow account throughout the appeals process.

"We believe that freedom of expression for ourselves means freedom of expression for others", said Mike Berry, an attorney for the First Liberty Institute, which argued on behalf of the Kleins in March.

More news: Women at the forefront of protests in cities across the country

What has happened to the Kleins' since this began?

The Oregon court said the Kleins" argument that their cakes entail an artistic expression is "entitled to be taken seriously, ' but it's not enough for the couple to assert their cakes are pieces of art - they must show others perceive their creations like a sculpture or painting.

Their kids, too, have been impacted by the negative publicity. "We've tried to protect them as much as possible".

It wasn't all bad news for the couple, though: A crowdfunding campaign netted the Kleins $500,000, more than three times the fine they were assessed.

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

It does not matter how you were born or who you love.

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.

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