The owners of a mom and pop bakery have just learned there is a significant price to pay for following their religious beliefs.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, have been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple after they refused to bake them a wedding cake in 2013.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) awarded $60,000 to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering.”
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” the final order read. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
According to the BOLI, the lesbian couple suffered great angst. One of the women “felt depressed and questioned whether there was something inherently wrong with the sexual orientation she was born with.” They said she had “difficulty controlling her emotions and cried a lot.”
The other woman “experienced extreme anger, outrage, embarrassment, exhaustion, frustration, intense sorrow and shame” simply because the Kleins refused to provide them with a wedding cake.
Jeez. That must have been one heck of a cake.
It sounds as if the state of Oregon is sending a stern warning to Christian business owners like the Kleins.
“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society,” the ruling states. “The ability to enter public places, to shop and dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.”
Does The Bureau of Labor and Industry truly believe that Christians who want to follow the teachings of their faith are bigots?
It certainly seems to me the only entity guilty of unfettered bigotry is the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry.
Since the day they turned away the lesbian couple’s business, the Kleins have suffered greatly. Their business was subjected to boycotts and pickets. LGBT activists and their supporters threatened any wedding vendor that did business with Sweet Cakes By Melissa.
Mrs. Klein told me her five children were subjected to death threats -- death threats for simply refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding. That doesn’t sound very tolerant to me.
Eventually, the bullying became so severe the family had to shut down their retail store and Mr. Klein had to take a job picking up garbage. Today, Mrs. Klein continues to make cakes in her home.
“We were just running our business the best we could – following the Lord’s example,” she said. “I’m just blown away by the ruling. They are punishing us for not participating in the wedding.”
Mr. Klein said he plans on appealing the ruling and had harsh words for BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian.
“This man has no power over me,” Klein said. “He seems to think he can tell me to be quiet. That doesn’t sit well with me and I refuse to comply.”
Mr. Klein accused the BOLI of ordering him to not speak publicly about the case – an order he said is unconstitutional.
“When my constitutional freedoms have been violated by the state I’m going to speak out,” he said. “That’s the way it is.”
Regardless, the Klein case has demonstrated once again that gay rights trump religious liberty. Other Christian business owners should pay close attention.
The Kleins had a choice. They could obey the government or they could obey God. They chose God – and now they must pay the price.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is "God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values." Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.