Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Court rules against OR bakers who refused to make gay wedding cake

Melissa and Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes as seen on Samaritan's Purse website Melissa and Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes as seen on Samaritan's Purse website
Ray Hunter | 31 December, 2017, 07:43

The Kleins are evangelical Christians. their lawyers argued in court that the government's penalties against the Kleins violated their rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and due process under the U.S. Constitution.

But yesterday, the Oregon Court of Appeals let the original decision stand, with the three-judge panel refusing to overturn the ruling made by the state's labour commissioner previous year.

The Oregon court said the Kleins" argument that their cakes entail an artistic expression is "entitled to be taken seriously, ' but it's not enough for the couple to assert their cakes are pieces of art - they must show others perceive their creations like a sculpture or painting.

An Oregon appellate court upheld on Thursday a ruling against bakery owners who refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple's wedding almost five years ago, according to the Willamette Week.

But the Oregon Court of Appeals sided with the state Thursday, saying the Kleins failed to show the state targeted them for their religious beliefs.

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"It does not matter how you were born or who you love".

Nancy Marcus, an attorney with LGBTQ legal and civil rights group Lambda Legal, which filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case, said the ruling "is both critically important and completely unsurprising". All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally.

"We believe that freedom of expression for ourselves means freedom of expression for others", said Mike Berry, a First Liberty attorney, via Skype.

The bakers are reportedly still considering taking the case to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Kleins said their objection to baking the cake was not because the couple was gay but because participating in a same-sex wedding would violate their closely held Christian beliefs.

Under Oregon law, businesses can not refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they can not turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion. Though online donations allowed the couple to operate their bakery from home, Melissa claimed she has since ended her online business. The ruling affirms BOLI's finding that the owners unlawfully discriminated against the couple in violation of the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 by denying them full and equal access to a place of public accommodation. It's unclear how much impact a decision in that case might have in the case involving the Kleins.

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