Christian Bakery Declines to Bake Cake for Gay Wedding. Now Out Of Business.
Melissa and Aaron Klein were living their dream. The Oregon couple had worked and saved to open Sweet Cakes bakery, and business was good. Then in January 2013, they were asked to bake a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, a lesbian couple planning to marry. As devout Christians, the Kleins politely declined. The lesbian couple immediately filed a civil rights claim against them.
Eventually, officials in the notoriously liberal state ruled that the Kleins had violated Cryer’s and Bowman’s civil rights. Under Oregon law, no citizen may be denied service based on sexual orientation. The law does have an exception for religious groups, but the exception does not apply to privately-owned businesses.
After the suit was made public, gay rights groups picketed the store. In an interview with Fox News, Klein said vendors who did business with the bakery were threatened. There were even death threats against the couple’s children. The Kleins were told by authorities they must “move into a period of reconciliation,” or face formal civil charges and potentially fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian told The Oregonian newspaper the agency’s desire is to “rehabilitate” businesses like Sweet Cakes. “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he said, “The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”
When the Kleins did not back down from their Christian beliefs, they were forced to close the bakery. They now sell baked goods from their home.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “We’re seeing a steady drumbeat of the loss of religious liberty, the ability to live your life, conduct your business according to the principles and teachings of your faith.”
Perkins was dismayed by the attacks against the Kleins. “It shows that tolerance is one way,” he said, “Those who trumpet the message of tolerance have no tolerance for people who disagree with them.”
Unfortunately, the Kleins are not alone. Last December a Colorado baker was ordered by a judge to either serve gay weddings or face fines. In the state of Washington, the attorney general filed a lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex couple’s wedding. New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in August that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said photographers Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin were “compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”