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Anti-Gay Oregon Cake Makers Pay Huge Discrimination Fine After Refusing to Bake a Cake for a Same-Se

by Rafi Schwartz Wednesday December 30, 2015    9:08 AM
After months of stalling, the owners of a Portland-area bakery have paid a hefty fine stemming from a 2013 incident in which they refused to create a cake for a lesbian couple.

This past spring, after an investigation spanning two years, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein, co-owners of the Gresham, Oregon-based Sweet Cakes bakery, had violated that state's anti-discrimination law by refusing to bake a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer because of the couple's sexual orientation. As a result, the bureau had ordered the bakers to pay $135,000 in damages to the (since-wed) Bowman-Cryers for emotional suffering. According to Portland NBC affiliate KGW, the bureau said at the time that "this case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business's refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal." As Reuters explains, the bakery had not been registered as a religious institution, and therefore could not claim religious exemption from the state's anti-discrimination laws.

For months after the Oregon court's ruling against the Kleins, however, the couple had refused to pay the ordered damages to the Bowman-Cryers. That changed this week when Aaron Klein reportedly cut a check for $136,927.07—the amount of the original fine, plus interest, according to KGW. Klein reportedly has said that he'll challenge the ruling in the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The Kleins closed their Gresham storefront in late August 2013, saying at the time, "We are moving our business to an in-home bakery." A website for the Sweet Cakes bakery prominently features several verses from the New Testament, as well as a message reading "We here at Sweet Cakes strongly believe that when a man and woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives."


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