Kleins will now approach the U.S. Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Oregon has stated its refusal to hear a case filed by the owners of a cake shop, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who declined to bake a wedding cake for Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer in 2013. The same-sex couple in retaliation filed a legal complaint against the business run by the Kleins.

The lesbian couple at first sought only $400, the price of the same custom cake which was denied to them. Things changed when Brad Avakian, the Labor Commissioner of Oregon, thought the appellants deserved more money. Avakian then imposed a massive fine of $135,000 as compensation for emotional damages. The Kleins were then ordered by the Labor Commissioner not to openly profess that they would not cater to gay weddings beacuse of their personal Christian beliefs. Oregon state backed this legal order. The state was all for imposing the penalty even though it means the business would have to be shut down.

Melissa Klein on June 19, said in an op-ed that Avakian was hostile towards religion. She compared the turn of events to yet another Civil Rights Commission case – that of Jack Phillips, the Christian baker, which was heard in Colorado. She wrote in her op-ed that the high monetary amount imposed on her business was like the anti-religious bias that Justice Kennedy mentioned while giving a pro-baker verdict in the case of Phillips.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries gave a ruling against the shop owners in 2015. The government board fixed a fine of about $135,000. The Kleins lost another legal battle when the Appeals' Court in Oregon also ruled against them. Chris Garrett, the presiding Judge, even wrote an opinion where he compared the Kleins objections towards gay marriage to individuals opposing interracial marriage. He pointed out that if the couple gets what they want, people with strong opposing views to marriage between individuals of different faiths, races, or ethnicities could easily demand equal exemptions.

Judge Garrett further elaborated on this reasoning. He said that the Kleins were unable to provide a principled stance for their requested exemption. Their only argument that the court must heed their “decent and honorable” causes, which according to the defendants are grounded in personal religious faith only for the sake of opposing marriage between the same sex. First Liberty Institute, representing the Kleins, has vowed to take the legal challenge to U.S. Supreme Court.


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