Supreme Court Tosses Ruling Against Oregon Christian Bakers Who Refused Cake For Gay Couple
The Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a lower court ruling against two Oregon bakers who had refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.
The case involved Melissa and Aaron Klein of Oregon, who shut down their small bakery after a state agency fined them $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for two lesbians. The agency said the Kleins had violated the state’s public accommodation law.
The Kleins, though, cited their Christian beliefs as the reason they would not provide services for the gay couple. The case followed another from last year, in which Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of a Colorado baker.
The high court sent the Klein case back to a lower court “for further consideration in light of” their Colorado decision.
The Oregon case involved Rachel Bowman-Cryer, who went to the Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, in January 2013 and inquired about a wedding cake. When Aaron Klein asked for the name of the groom, Bowman-Cryer said there wasn’t one. Klein told her the bakery does not bake cakes for gay weddings.
The Kleins were ordered to pay $135,000 to the couple for “discriminating against them in violation of a state public accommodations statute,” Fox News reported. The couple was forced to shut down their bakery.
After the Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case, First Liberty, which represented the couple, lauded the decision.
“This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans,” First Liberty president Kelly Shackelford said in a statement. “The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.”
Last June, the high court delivered a similar victory to Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop in Colorado. The justices sent that case back to a lower court “after finding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had acted with religious animus when investigating the baker’s actions,” the Washington Post reported.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said in the court’s majority opinion that there was improper religious bias by some Colorado officials against the baker. Future courts, he added, would need to address the rights of those with religious objections to same-sex marriage along with the rights of gay people, who “cannot be treated as social outcasts or as inferior in dignity and worth,” the Post wrote.
“The high court took the same tack last year in the florist’s case,” the Associated Press wrote. “Taking a second look at the case, the Washington Supreme Court concluded earlier in June that there was no animosity toward religion in court rulings that florist Barronelle Stutzman broke the state’s anti-discrimination laws by refusing on religious grounds to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple. Stutzman owns Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington. The justices could consider Stutzman’s appeal in the fall.”