The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned a $135,000 fine imposed on a bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2013.
The court upheld the 2017 ruling against Aaron and Melissa Klein, who owned a bakery called Sweetcakes by Melissa, but scrapped the fine.
Local station KOIN reports:
In an opinion released Wednesday, Jan. 26, the court upheld its original 2017 decision against the couple — Aaron and Melissa Klein, then doing business as Sweetcakes by Melissa — based on a 2015 determination by the Bureau of Labor and Industries that they violated Oregon’s 2007 law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The couple argued that doing so would infringe on their religious rights.
But the court also overturned its previous approval of $60,000 in noneconomic damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 to Rachel Bowman-Cryer, both awarded by an administrative law judge in the bureau. The court found that the awards were based partly on a conversation about beliefs between Aaron Klein and Cheryl McPherson, Rachel’s mother, who the court found relayed it inaccurately to the couple.
The Klein’s had argued that they refused to bake cakes for same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs. They ended up closing their business in 2016 amid the legal battle.
A lawyer representing the Kleins said that they will continue to fight by appealing again in the Oregon Supreme Court, and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court, because “they failed to prevail on the issue of religious beliefs.”
Stephanie Taub is senior counsel for First Liberty Institute, which represented the Kleins, said in a statement that they were the victims of “anti-Christian bias.”
“Oregon is trying to have its cake and eat it, too. The court admits the state agency that acted as both prosecutor and judge, in this case, was biased against the Kleins’ faith. Yet, despite this anti-Christian bias that infected the whole case, the court is sending the case back to the very same agency for a do-over. Today’s opinion should have been the end of this 10-year-long saga. It’s time for the state of Oregon’s hostility toward Aaron and Melissa to end,” Taub said.