Christian bakers who refused to make lesbians’ wedding cake lose appeal against $135,000 fine
A Christian bakery which rejected a lesbian couple’s request for a wedding cake has been ordered to pay them $135,000.
Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, claimed in 2013 that it would be “sinful” to create a cake for lesbian couple Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer.
At a cake-tasting session for the Bowman-Cryers, the Kleins allegedly cited a passage from Leviticus calling gay people “abominations.”
After losing the long-running court case last year, the Christian couple was ordered to pay $135,000 in costs and damages.
The anti-gay American Family Association rallied its supporters to raise $400,000 to donate to Sweet Cakes to cover the costs.
Despite this campaign, the bakery quietly shut down and appealed the fine.
But yesterday, the Oregon Court of Appeals let the original decision stand, with the three-judge panel refusing to overturn the ruling made by the state’s labour commissioner last year.
It was not, the judges agreed, a violation of the Kleins’ constitutional rights to freedom of religion and expression.
The bakers had already paid the fine before changing their minds and deciding to appeal against it.
Brad Avakian, Oregon’s labour commissioner, welcomed the news.
In a statement, he said: “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,” he added, according to Reuters.
After a discrimination complaint was filed over the incident, the Kleins posted the womens’ personal details on Facebook, leading to a years-long barrage of personal abuse against them.
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In their legal defence, the bakers claimed that their Christian values meant that they were unable to bake cakes which go against the Bible’s teaching – despite later making divorce celebration cakes and – even more damningly – ‘gay cure’ cakes.
It is hoped that the decision will have a positive effect on another gay cake case set to be ruled on by the Supreme Court.
Jack Phillips of Colorado’s Masterpiece Cakeshop launched a legal challenge after being found in violation of state anti-discrimination laws for refusing to serve gay couple David Mullins and Charlie Craig.
Phillips claimed earlier this year that Jesus Christ would discriminate against gay people, and continues to insist his religion requires discrimination against gay people.
Arguments in the case, which he is using in an attempt to undermine LGBT discrimination protections, were heard earlier this month, with a ruling expected next year.
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