Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa was ordered to pay damages in the legal case brought after the owners refused to make a gay wedding cake, and the company paid the fine earlier this week. The state mandated a $135,000 award be given to the same-sex couple who was denied service from the Portland area business in 2013.
Aaron Klein, the co-owner of the Oregon bakery, presented a check for $126,927.07 on Monday. The Sweet Cakes owner had already paid $7,000 of the gay wedding cake refusal of service fine earlier this month. The court order was issued in July to compensate Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer for the “emotional suffering” caused by the same-sex wedding cake denial by the store owners. Melissa and Aaron Klein have staunchly maintained that they politely refused to bake the cake because gay marriage violates their religious beliefs.
— TriCityHerald (@TriCityHerald) December 29, 2015
An Oregon state law passed in 2007 barred businesses from refusing service to customers based upon their sexual orientation. While the LGBT community is applauding the Sweet Cakes decision and the payment Sweet Cakes was forced to make, many religious freedom advocates oppose the ruling. Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein had violated the civil rights of Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer and ordered the emotional damages amount, which the Sweet Cakes owners refused to comply with for months. Avakian also placed a gag order on the Oregon bakery owners that prohibited them from talking to the media about why they refuse to make gay wedding cakes.
— FOX 12 Oregon KPTV (@fox12oregon) December 29, 2015
Tyler Smith, the attorney for the Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners, said that the couple has not wavered in their desire to appeal the damages order but chose to pay the fine because doing so was in their best interest, Fox News reports.
The gay wedding cake controversy began when the owners of the Oregon bakery met with one of the brides and her mother during a scheduled taste-testing appointment. The Sweet Cakes owners informed the women that they do not provide cakes for same-sex ceremonies. The two brides initiated a legal filing claiming their civil rights had been violated, and the story quickly went viral.
Voices on both sides of the issue ran hot in news commentary reports and on social media. A GoFundMe page created to help Sweet Cakes pay the massive fine was yanked off the crowdsourcing fundraising website in May. The website operators posted new guidelines stating that campaigns in “defense of formal charges or claims of heinous crimes, violent, hateful, sexual or discriminatory acts” will be removed from the venue, the Washington Post reports.
Fortunately for the bakery owners, they had almost reached their fundraising goal and were allowed to keep the $110,000 in donations that had poured in after their campaign was published on the website. Melissa and Aaron Klein were still able to accept donations from supporters thanks to Samaritan’s Purse president Franklin Graham. The international aid group started a program to accept donations to help “persecuted Christians” in the United States.
The organization also voiced support for other Christians who cited their religious beliefs and faced criminal and civil penalties for refusing to participate in gay weddings. The examples of cases that Samaritan’s Purse deemed Christian persecution include a florist in Washington who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, a New Mexico photographer who refused to shoot a gay marriage ceremony, and a pizza shop in Indiana that would not cater a gay wedding reception.
What do you think about the damages award issued against Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in the gay wedding discrimination case?
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