Bakers who refused to make lesbian wedding cake launch court petition to avoid paying damages
The owners of a bakery, which was shut down after refusing to make a cake for a lesbian wedding, are still refusing to pay damages five years after a ruling.
Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer requested that Sweet Cakes by Melissa make a cake for their wedding.
However, owners Melissa and Aaron turned the couple away, citing their religious beliefs.
The couple launched a lawsuit against the Kleins.
In 2015, a judge ruled in favour of the lesbian couple and the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld that ruling last year.
The business was ordered to pay over $135,000 in emotional damages.
Now, the company has launched a petition to the court of appeals in order to avoid paying the damages.
“Forcing artists to design and create custom wedding cakes to celebrate marriage rituals that are incompatible with the artists’ sincerely held religious beliefs abridges the freedom of speech and association protected by the First Amendment,” the petition states.
It argues that the Klein’s should be allowed to exercise their religious freedom.
They hope that a revised ruling will “determine whether entrepreneurs in Oregon can exercise their freedoms of speech, religious exercise and conscience; and whether due process will protect them against bias and prejudgment by ideologically motivated adjudicators.”
The Klein’s refusal to pay the damages has been slammed by Lambda Legal and The Bureau of Labor and Industries, who both supported the lesbian couple in the case.
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A spokesperson for the bureau, Charlie Burr, said that it will remain committed “to strong and fair enforcement of Oregon’s Equality Act so 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,” they added.
Speaking after the 2015 ruling, Burr said that they found it “difficult to understand the Klein’s unwillingness to pay the debt when they have, very publicly, raised nearly a half million dollars”.
Sweet Cakes by Melissa raised the money online after the anti-gay American Family Association (AFA) rallied its supporters to donate.
As they are still refusing to pay the damages, it is unclear what the money raised to pay the fine is being used for.