The two Oregon cake-makers fined by the state for not selling a cake with a pro-gay message to a lesbian couple are fighting for their legal rights, amid misleading media reports.
A statement from the family’s lawyer, Tyler Smith, says:
Aaron and Melissa Klein are devoted to honoring God in every aspect of their lives, including how they conduct themselves in this litigation.
Oregon law requires that as they appeal the Oregon government’s decision denying them their First Amendment rights, they must either pay the amount imposed by the Oregon government, or obtain a bond for the amount of the judgment. The least expensive option to stay in compliance with the law was to pay the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries funds that will be kept in a separate account until they prevail in their court appeal.
Aaron and Melissa will continue to work to ensure that every American has the First Amendment right to express their faith-based beliefs, and to conduct their daily affairs according to their conscience.
The Kleins owned a bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa. In 2013, two lesbians ordered a wedding cake. When Aaron explained that they don’t make wedding cakes conveying messages that contradict their Christian beliefs on marriage, the women filed a complaint, which was picked up by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries regulatory agency.
In 2015, BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian issued an order declaring that the bakers had violated the state’s sexual orientation and gender identity law, had inflicted emotional and mental suffering, and directed them to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 in damages. He also forbade the Kleins from publicly saying that they will not provide goods or services celebrating same-sex marriage.
The Kleins are appealing that decision, saying it violates their First Amendment rights, both to free speech and the free exercise of their religion.
As part of the legal process, the couple had to initially produce the $135,000 payment, plus some extra charges. The payment could either be given to BOLI, and then held in a separate account until the litigation is over, or else be provided to a bank in exchange for a bank bond. But the bank option would cost tens of thousands of dollars extra, so they made the provisional payment to the BOLI agency.
The couple had to close their bakery, so the provisional payment was contributed in numerous small gifts by Christians across America.
The case is now pending before the Oregon Court of Appeals.