- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2015

The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa are still required to pay $135,000 in damages for “emotional suffering” to a lesbian couple based on Thursday’s final order from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

The order affirms an initial ruling in January that found Aaron and Melissa Klein had violated Oregon civil-rights law by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony in 2013 and ordered them to pay damages to Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman.

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation,” said Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian in his 122-page order. “Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”

The Kleins had argued that participating in the wedding by baking the cake would have violated their religious beliefs, but Mr. Avakian rejected the distinction between discriminating against a same-sex couple and refusing to participate in a same-sex ceremony.

“The forum has already found there to be no distinction between the two,” he said.

The Kleins’ attorney Anna Harmon called the final order a “shocking result which shows the state’s relentless campaign to punish Oregonians who live and work according to their faith,” according to KATU-TV in Portland.

The Kleins, who closed their shop and now sell baked goods from their home, said in a Facebook post that they “will NOT give up this fight,” indicating that they may appeal the order to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

“According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech,” said the Kleins on Facebook. “We stand for God’s truth, God’s word and freedom for ALL [A]mericans. We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world.”

The Sweet Cakes case is one of at least a half-dozen involving complaints by same-sex couples against Christian small business owners who declined to provide products for gay weddings.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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