Oregon Bakers Penalized Over Same-Sex Wedding Cake Headed to State Court of Appeals Today

By Liberty McArtor Published on March 2, 2017

The Oregon bakers penalized for declining to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding will go before the Oregon Court of Appeals today for oral arguments.

The case began in 2013 when Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told a returning customer that creating a cake for her same-sex wedding ceremony would violate their Christian beliefs, according to a summary on FirstLiberty.org. First Liberty is the non-profit religious freedom law firm representing the Kleins.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) later ordered the Kleins to pay the woman and her partner $135,000. The agency also ordered the Kleins to stop speaking publicly about their religious beliefs regarding marriage.

“This shouldn’t happen in America. There is plenty of room for people to live respectfully with their different beliefs,” First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford told The Stream in January. “Using the government to punish those who have different beliefs on marriage is morally wrong and it’s unconstitutional.”

The Arguments

Hiram Sasser, the First Liberty attorney representing the Kleins, will argue that the BOLI not only violated the Kleins’ right to religious freedom and free speech, but also due process of law.

According to First Liberty attorneys, BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian publicly condemned the Kleins on Facebook and in media interviews before he heard their case.

“Commissioner Brad Avakian decided the Kleins were guilty before he even heard their case,” Shackelford said. “This is an egregious violation of the Kleins’ rights to due process.” 

Sasser will also argue that the $135,000 penalty was excessive and not justified under Oregon or federal law.

According to a 2015 report in The Oregonian, Avakian defended the BOLI’s actions after the penalty order was finalized:

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.

“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 ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.”

According to the Kleins, it wasn’t about sexual orientation, but participation in a specific event.

“We served these two women in the past. We had a great time,” Melissa said in a video produced by First Liberty. “When I do a cake, I feel a part of what these people are celebrating. For me to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding would fully go against what I believe.”

When it comes to events, “everyone has a right to decide whether to participate or not to,” Shackelford said in another video earlier this week.

Press Conference

Thursday’s arguments will take place at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Sasser and the Kleins will hold a press conference outside the Oregon Supreme Court directly following the arguments. The press conference will be live streamed at First Liberty Institute’s Facebook page.

“Whatever people’s beliefs about same-sex marriage or other issues, I think the thing that all Americans do agree upon is that we have a right to hold those different beliefs. That is what is under attack in this case,” Shackelford said.

React to This Article

What do you think of our coverage in this article? We value your feedback as we continue to grow.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Like the article? Share it with your friends! And use our social media pages to join or start the conversation! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Parler, Instagram, MeWe and Gab.

Brew Special: The Sound of Freedom
Al Perrotta
More from The Stream
Connect with Us