A Christian baker who, on the grounds of her beliefs, refused to sell a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding, may be required to pay as much as $75k per complainant – or, in this case, for the two people denied service, $150k. It has taken more than two years to near a conclusion of the case, which began when the Oregon bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused an order for a wedding cake in January of 2013. Now, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries says that there is sufficient evidence that the Aaron and Melissa Klein discriminated against the couple, and that they will have to pay damages.
According to KGW, the exact amount the Christian baker will have to pay out in the discrimination suit hasn’t been named yet, but a violation of Oregon’s Equality Act can incur a penalty of up to $75k per complainant. A hearing to determine the amount the baker must pay will be held on March 10.
Though the baker closed the doors of her shop in 2013, she continues to run her business out of her home. Shortly after Monday’s decision, Melissa responded with this image on the business Facebook page:
Another bakery that refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, the Masterpiece Cake Shop in Denver, was ordered in December not to discriminate, and, rather than provide wedding cakes to all customers who requested them, elected to simply stop making wedding cakes altogether.
Meanwhile, in attempts to mirror these cases and turn them around, one Christian website contacted over a dozen bakeries to request a cake saying “gay marriage is wrong” and an administrator of a Christian school is suing a Denver bakery for refusing to make a cake that, according to the baker, used anti-gay slurs and called same-sex couples “detestable” and a “disgrace.”
The legal difference in the cases, of course, is that bakeries in the latter two cases were willing to make a cake for the customer, but not to include certain content. In the cases of Masterpiece Cakes, and Sweet Cakes By Melissa, a baker actively refused to sell a product to a customer based on a protected demographic. While a baker can legally refuse to sell a cake with, say, pink icing, two male figurines, or an objectionable message, a baker cannot legally refuse to sell a cake to a same-sex couple, that would be willingly sold to an opposite-sex couple.
Mr. and Mrs. Klein’s business is, according to the findings of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, guilty of discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. The fine for refusing to sell a same-sex couple a wedding cake will be determined in March.
[Photo: Giovanni Dall’Orto]