Oregon business fights half-baked discrimination complaint

Religious Liberty
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 8/15/13, 03:25 pm

Two lesbians have filed a discrimination complaint in Oregon against a bakery that refused in January to make their wedding cake. 

Aaron and Melissa Klein own Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore., and say their Christian beliefs prevent them from baking wedding cakes for homosexual couples. WORLD reported in February that Laurel Bowman and Rachel Cryer requested a cake, but the Kleins said they would not participate in something they “strongly disagree” with.

Bowman and Cryer wanted a cake from Sweet Cakes because they had a positive experience two years ago, when one of their mothers purchased her wedding cake, Melissa Klein told me: “They gave us wonderful reviews. They loved it, they thought the cake was great.”

Bowman and Cryer ordered their own cake in January. When they came for the consultation, Aaron Klein apologized and told them the bakery wouldn’t bake their cake. Melissa Klein said they have turned down several other homosexual couples, but this is the first complaint anyone has ever filed against them. 

“Pretty much everybody understood, and they went somewhere else,” Klein said.

The official complaint, filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, arrived on Tuesday. The Kleins have 14 days to respond. “I honestly don't know what comes after that,” Klein said.

According to the Oregon Constitution Article XV, section 5a, “only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.” But the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 protects LGBT people from discrimination in areas including employment, jury service, and public school education. 

The complaint will go to an investigator, who may recommend the case go to court. If it does, the judge may hand it over to the state’s labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, for a final decision. Avakian told the Oregonian his department is “committed to a fair and thorough investigation” of whether the Kleins have engaged in discrimination. 

“The goal is never to shut down a business,” he said. “The goal is to rehabilitate.” 

The bakery’s business has suffered since January, Klein said: “It has really affected our wedding industry. We have a lot of vendors that used to recommend us that don’t recommend us anymore.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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