Oregon Bakers Who Refused to Make Gay Wedding Cake Lose Appeal

Kristopher Drake
December 30, 2017

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

The owners of the since-closed Gresham bakery - Aaron and Melissa Klein - had appealed the fine, which forced them to pay emotional distress damages, claiming it violated their rights to free speech and religious freedom.

First Liberty Institute, a national religious liberty advocacy group that assisted in the Kleins' case, said it was disappointed in the ruling.

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

This week, an OR appeals court ruled in a case that bears a strong resemblance to the Masterpiece Cakeshop case now before the U.S. Supreme Court. In the vast majority of all employment, housing and public accommodations complaints filed under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, BOLI investigators have found that no substantial evidence exists to support charges of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"The court's decision is unsurprising because it is consistent with decisions by courts across the country that have similarly refused to create a new constitutional right of businesses to exempt themselves from civil rights laws and harm same-sex couples through discriminatory denials of service", Marcus told NBC News via email.

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals rejected a petition by Melissa and Aaron Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to overturn the ruling by the state's labor commissioner as a violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution to freedom of religion and expression.

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

"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.

The Kleins have already paid the $135,000 in damages, but that money was held in a government escrow pending the appeal court's decision. In a odd twist, the Kleins were originally represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.

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.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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