Oregon Bakers Who Refused to Make Gay Wedding Cake Lose Appeal

Geneva Matthews
December 30, 2017

PORTLAND, OR-The Oregon Court of Appeals today upheld emotional distress damages for a same-sex couple denied service by the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham.

BOLI ordered the Kleins to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 in emotional damages, saying that under OR law, business owners can't discriminate based on sexual orientation.

The Kleins' couple said they still receive threats against them.

But the Oregon Court of Appeals sided with the state Thursday, saying the Kleins failed to show the state targeted them for their religious beliefs.

Oregon's anti-discrimination law states that "all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or age".

The Appeals Court ruled against Avakian on one point: The labor commissioner interpreted the Kleins' statements as evidence of an intent to discriminate in the future.

In each civil rights investigation, the Bureau of Labor and Industries approaches the complaint not with a bias for or against the complainant, but with a duty to determine the unique set of facts.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, who closed the cake shop in October 2016, appealed the fine to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries in March.

"Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others".

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

Shackelford added, "In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of goodwill should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs".

The decision against the Kleins comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Colorado baker Jack Phillips. The Bowman-Cryers complained to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, saying they had been refused service due to their sexual orientation. In a odd twist, the Kleins were originally represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.

Following their lost appeal, the OR court said the Kleins' argument that their cakes are a form of artistic expression is "entitled to be taken seriously", but that others would not consider them as they would a statue OR a painting.

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