Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa
A couple with five children who politely declined to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are being fined $135,000 for discrimination. They have been driven out of business. In addition, they may not speak about it.
They aren’t allowed to speak but the commissioner of an allegedly impartial government agency made his decision while regularly communicating with the largest LGBT organization in the state.
This is so over the top. This is a punishment for an identity thief or a hacker. They’re bakers!
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon communicated closely while the commission was deciding whether to uphold the fine a judge recommended be levied on the couple who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
The bakers were fined $135,000 for saying they were Christians and couldn’t bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
The lesbian couple Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer said it’s been a two-year ordeal and that they didn’t imagine they would become part of a social justice movement. It’s hard to believe.
The judge wrote in his opinion of Laurel Bowman Cryer:
“LBC [Laurel Bowman-Cryer] was a very bitter and angry witness who had a strong tendency to exaggerate and over-dramatize events,” the judge wrote. “On cross examination, she argued repeatedly with Respondents’ counsel and had to be counseled … to answer the questions asked of her instead of editorializing about the cake refusal and how it affected her. Her testimony was inconsistent in several respects with more credible evidence.”
“The judge awarded Laurel Bowman-Cryer a lesser amount because she wasn’t present when Rachel Bowman-Cryer and her mother were turned away at the bakery and because he found her testimony “about the extent and severity of her emotional suffering to be exaggerated in some respects.”
The labor department exchanged phone calls, texts, and attended meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state while the case was being decided.
Hans Von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said “state agencies have a duty to represent the best interests of the general public, not the interests of one particular advocacy group. The relationship shown by these communications is inappropriate and raises basic questions about the objectivity, bias, and fairness of this agency and its proceedings.”
“The whole point of having an independent judiciary is to separate the judicial and prosecutorial functions and avoid this type of conflict,” Von Spakovsky said.
The commissioner of The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions and purchased tickets costing hundreds of dollars benefiting the advocacy group, according to The Daily Signal.
The bakers, Aaron and Melissa Klein, are owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. They had to give up their shop and move their business into their home because of the protests at their business. They are filing an appeal based on the questionable interactions.
When the lesbian couple brought the complaint, same-sex marriage was not legal in Oregon.
In the ruling, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”