Christian bakers hope to restart after gay wedding cake fine

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Aaron and Melissa Klein
Aaron and Melissa Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa Bakery in Oregon, speak at the Values ​​Voter Summit in Washington, DC on September 26, 2014. |

Aaron and Melissa Klein, a Christian couple whose bakery has been stranded in court for years and ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, are now working to open a a new shop to “show the goodness of God to all.

The Kleins, who owned Sweet Cakes by Melissa until an order from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries sought to punish them for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013, moved to Montana two years ago and hope to start a new bakery. , says Melissa Klein in an online fundraising appeal.

“I said I would never open a bakery again, but God seemed to change my heart with this,” she adds. “I’ve had my shop in Oregon for 10 years and miss it dearly and all of my lovely customers.”

Klein further explains that her family needs to raise $50,000 for a down payment on a restaurant for sale in Montana that may be “the home of Sweet Cakes.” She adds that she also sells cookies to raise funds.

By Sunday morning, 132 people had donated nearly $14,000 to the couple.

“I hope to see, with my new bakery, whether it’s a place where friends and family can come, sit and have a coffee, have breakfast or lunch, or even just a sweet treat,” said Klein told CBN News in an interview last week.

“I want it to be a place where everyone feels welcome and is greeted with a happy smile,” she added. “I want it to be a place that is used to show God’s goodness to everyone.”

In January, a three-judge panel of the Oregon State Court of Appeals ruled that the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against by refusing to bake a cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer’s wedding in 2013.

However, the panel overturned the order requiring the couple to pay $135,000 in damages.

“We adhere to our earlier decision upholding BOLI’s determinations that Aaron unlawfully discriminated against the Bowman-Cryers based on their sexual orientation,” Circuit Judge Erin Lagesen, the author of the panel’s opinion, wrote. “We come to a different conclusion with respect to our prior confirmation of BOLI’s award of non-economic damages,” Lagesen said.

However, Stephanie Taub, senior counsel for the First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal association representing the Kleins, disagreed with the appeals court’s decision.

“The court concedes that the state agency that acted as both prosecutor and judge in this case was biased against the Kleins’ faith. Yet despite this anti-Christian bias that has infected the whole case, the court is sending the case back to the same agency for a retrial,” she said at the time.

The Bowman-Cryers filed a complaint with BOLI, which ruled that the Kleins violated Oregon’s Accommodations Act prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Following BOLI’s decision against them, the Kleins were fined $135,000 in damages and closed the bakery.

The Kleins appealed the BOLI order to the Oregon Court of Appeals in 2016. After the Oregon court upheld the order, they appealed to the United States Supreme Court in 2018.

In June 2019, the Supreme Court issued an order reversing the decision against the Kleins and remanding the case to the state appeals court. The country’s High Court cited its 2018 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop c. Colorado Civil Rights Commission that the latter showed unconstitutional anti-religious animosity towards Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop when he punished him for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding.

Speaking of the devastation of losing her business, Klein told CBN’s Faithwire, “All I remember with the feeling of losing my bakery is the feeling of just devastation. … My heart sank. was literally torn in two when I closed my doors for the last time.”

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