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Bakery That Refused To Make Wedding Cake For Gay Couple Receives Severe Punishment

By Jonna Ivin-Patton

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the ruling ordering Melissa and Aaron Klein owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa to pay $135,000 in damages for refusing to bake a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer in 2013. The fines were also to cover the emotional distress that came from an onslaught of harassment and death threats the Bowman-Cryer's received after the Klein's posted their private information online.  The Bowman-Cryer's and their children had to flee their home and move in with family when the death threats became overwhelming. Eventually the FBI was brought in. 

The court found that the Klein's bakery was in violation of the Oregon Equality Act when it denied the Bowman-Cryer's order for a wedding cake based on their sexual orientation.

 The original ruling by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries was handed down in 2015 by Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian  but the Klein's appealed that decision. At first the couple refused to pay the fine but eventually did pay in full plus interest. Soon after paying the fine, they filed an appeal seeking religious exemption from the Oregon Equality Act. They also claimed their right to free speech had been violated. 

On December 28, 2017, Judge Chris Garret of the Oregon Court of Appeals stated that the Kleins’ free speech rights had not been violated by the the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, because its ruling "requires their compliance with a neutral law.” 

The Klein's claimed that the fine would financially bankrupt them, but the family has received donations from religious supporters totaling over $500,000. They say now that the money is all gone, used to pay lawyers fees.