In late December, an Oregon couple was dealt a significant blow to their way of life.
Sweetcakes bakery owners Melissa, Aaron and Melissa Klein learned the appeals court would uphold the decision originally made by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. In this ruling, the Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple who claimed the Kleins refused to bake them a wedding cake back in 2013. This hefty penalty has effectively put Sweetcakes by Melissa out of business.
The bureau initially ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 to the slighted couple in 2015 after a year-long court battle. The Kleins, of course, disagreed with the ruling and determined to fight back what they perceived as an injustice against their personal beliefs and right to practice their faith. They appealed the ruling.
The Kleins attorney Jeremy Dys of First Liberty, had hoped he and the Kleins would be victorious in the appeal’s process. He believed this appeal would serve as proof that Christian business owners like the Kleins would be “free to live their faith.”
Unfortunately, the Kleins were unsuccessful in their appeal process.
“Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others,” First Liberty CEO Kelly Shackelford said “Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein are not entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free speech. In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of goodwill should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We are disappointed that the court ruled against the Kleins.”
Following the ruling, the Kleins had to sell the business they worked hard to build all due to the nightmare that has visited them every day of their lives since the complaint originated in 2013. However, losing their business is far from the only impact this situation has had on the couple.
According to the Kleins, they still receive threats.
“We still get emails every once in a while out of the blue that are just saying horrible things to us,” Melissa said.
The couple’s children have also felt the backlash of this event.
“It’s definitely had its toll on them,” Aaron added. “We’ve tried to protect them as much as possible.”
As might be expected, the lesbian couple who brought the charges against the Kleins are most pleased with the outcome. They made the following statement after the decision was announced:
“All Oregonians can go into any store and expect to be treated just like any other person. It does not matter how you were born or who you love. All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. Oregon will not allow a ‘Straight Couples Only’ sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores.”
The legal battle mounted against the Kleins began innocuously enough, starting started in 2013 when lesbian couple Laurel Bowman-Cryer and Rachel Bowman-Cryer complained to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Their complaint stated that the Kleins refused to make them a wedding cake due to the fact that they were a lesbian couple. The Kleins refuted their claim. They said their objection was instead in participating in a same-sex wedding, which violated the basis of their Christian faith, not in serving the couple.
The Kleins have expressed an interest in opening a storefront bakery again eventually but know they can’t do so in Oregon due to the state’s ruling on their case. Currently, the couple is operating a small bakery business online.
~ 1776 Christian