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Oregon Bakers Who Refused Wedding Cake to Lesbian Couple Faced with Possible $150,000 Fine

Oregon Bakers Who Refused Wedding Cake to Lesbian Couple Faced with Possible $150,000 Fine

Oregon Bakers Who Refused Wedding Cake to Lesbian Couple Faced with Possible $150,000 Fine

The bakers claimed they were victims of discrimination based on their religious beliefs.

TracyEGilchrist

The owners of the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, who famously refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, may be forced under the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to pay a fine to the couple for as much as $150,000, according to Think Progress.

During the summer of 2013, Rachel Cryer, who was engaged to Laurel Bowman (now Bowman-Cryer since their wedding), approached Sweet Cakes by Melissa to bake their wedding cake, but owner Aaron Klein turned them away upon learning that the cake was for a lesbian couple. At the time, Aaron Klein allegedly referred to the couple as “an abomination of the Lord.”

Klein, who owns Sweet Cakes with his wife, Melissa, said he was just expressing his First Amendment right to freedom of religion, citing his Christian beliefs as the reason he couldn't serve a law-abiding, paying customer.

"It's definitely not discrimination at all," Melissa Klein told OregonLive in 2013. "We don't have anything against lesbians or homosexuals. It has to do with our morals and beliefs. It's so frustrating because we went through all of this in January, when it all came out."

The story went viral with several repercussions, including Sweet Cakes by Melissa shuttering its storefront and the owners operating the bakery out of their home. In a different sort of twist, Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes, got involved and offered to bake the Bowman/Cryer wedding cake.

In a ruling that came down Monday, Administrative Law Judge Alan McCullough addressed several issues in the dispute between the Kleins and the Bowman-Cryers, including that the Kleins claimed they were being discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation, yet declined to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Judge McCullough wrote in his decision, “there is simply no reason to distinguish between services for a wedding ceremony between two persons of the same sex and the sexual orientation of that couple. The conduct, a marriage ceremony, is inextricably linked to a person’s sexual orientation.”

Sweet Cakes by Melissa landed in the news again this summer when it was revealed that the owners had baked goods for the ex-gay ministry “Restored Hope.” 

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.