- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2013

An Oregon baker with Christian beliefs who was forced to shut down operations after refusing to make a cake for a planned same-sex wedding says her faith in God has not wavered — and in fact, has grown stronger because of the ordeal.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, who claim a Christian faith, operated the Gresham, Ore., shop, Sweet Cakes by Melissa. In May, because of their religious beliefs, the Kleins turned down a request from a lesbian couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowmann, to bake a cake for their upcoming wedding.

The lesbians, in turn, filed a complaint with the state, touching off a massive gay activist outcry that ultimately led the couple to shut their business doors — the business they had spent years building — and move operations this past weekend to their home.

They’re still not sure how a home baking business will work, Mrs. Klein said, in The Blaze.  But they said they had little recourse but to try. The couple has five children, who are now being home-schooled.

The outcry from the gay community over their refusal to bake the lesbians’ cake hit hard at their vendor business. Many cut ties and left them in limbo. The business had already suffered a tight winter; Mrs. Klein said the negative reaction from the lesbian cake ordeal likely pushed their revenue situation into the category of dire.

“We coasted it through the summer to see how it would be,” Mrs. Klein said. “We had quite a few wedding cakes that we had booked, and people cancelled. The referrals that we would get, none of those came in.”

SEE ALSO: Christian bakers who refused cake order for gay wedding forced to close shop

Meanwhile, Mrs. Klein had a message for those facing challenges in life: Don’t give up on God.

She said, in The Blaze: “It is so worth it just to sit back and watch how God provides for you. I struggled in the past with trust and even with my faith in Him and through this my faith has grown, my trust has grown tremendously. Yeah, I have lost something I worked really hard for and lots of years put into, but I know that really doesn’t matter. My eternal home is what matters. I’m going to bring all that with me. … I’m happy and OK and I’m being provided for.”

The lesbian couple hasn’t dropped their complaint, and if the State Bureau of Labor and Industries rules in their favor, the Kleins could end up paying a civil penalty of $1,000 per violation — and up to $50,000 for emotional damage, The Blaze said.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Klein said a movement has already popped up to stop the family from operating the bakery at their home. A Facebook page called “Boycott Sweet Cakes by Melissa” has generated more than 500 “likes.”

Mrs. Klein said of the social media campaign that’s now being waged: “They’re already planning to harass me. They’re just continuously doing this. They just don’t want me to be in business at all.”

The Kleins have been subjected to vicious messages these past weeks — and the hateful emails keep pouring in, she said, to The Blaze.

A sampling: “People like you will burn in HELL, you racist pigs.”

And another: “Your homophobic rants will not be forgotten and you will go out of business. This is the 21st century [expletive].”

And a third: “Do everyone a favor and fall off a cliff.”

And one more: “Maybe your [G]od will send you some cat food to eat when you are living on the street?”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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