Oregon Baker Refused to Make Wedding Cake; Court Rejects Religious Argument

The Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a decision by Oregon's labor commissioner that forced two Gresham bakers to pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple for whom the bakers refused to make a wedding cake.

The Kleins appealed Avakian's decision, claiming that their religious beliefs do not allow them to support a same-sex wedding in any way, and that their free-speech rights would be abridged if they were compelled to apply their artistry in the service of such a wedding.

The First Liberty Institute, which represented the Kleins, expressed disappointment with the ruling.

In a statement, Cryer and Bowman applauded the court ruling saying, "All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally".

"With this ruling, the Court of Appeals has upheld the long-standing idea that discrimination has no place in America", the couple insisted.

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.

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The case has garnered national attention because of its similarity to another case now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court involving the Masterpiece Cakeshop of Colorado.

The decision marked another chapter in the longstanding dispute between the bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, and the couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, which goes back to 2013 when the Kleins refused to provide service and the Bowman-Cryers filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

They met with Aaron Klein, who asked for the date of the ceremony and the names of the bride and groom. It is about whether is okay for a business to refuse to serve people cause of the owner's religious beliefs. "In Oregon, businesses that are open to the public are open to all", they said.

"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.

Through tears, Klein said she poured her heart and passion into each cake and designed each one to fit each couple perfectly.

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. "We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build".

  • Carlos Nash