Lawyers for Oregon bakery owners embroiled in a gay marriage lawsuit have asked for the case to be reopened to see if it was tainted by bias.
Officials with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) have been in close contact with Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), the state’s leading gay-rights advocacy group, according to emails released through a public-records request for the media arm of a conservative think tank.
BOLI handled the Sweet Cakes by Melissa discrimination case, which resulted in a judge assessing an interim order assessing a $135,000 fine against owners Aaron and Melissa Klein.
A final order is expected to be issued this summer by state Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.
BRO was working to legalize gay marriage in early 2013 when Mr. Klein told lesbian Rachel Cryer that their bakery could not make a cake for her upcoming commitment ceremony with her girlfriend. Ms. Cryer filed a discrimination complaint with BOLI against the bakery owners.
Emails between officials with BOLI and BRO — obtained by the Daily Signal of the Heritage Foundation — were shared with lawyers for the Kleins.
The emails, plus testimony about possible collusion from a witness in the Klein case, prompted lawyers Herbert G. Grey and Anna Harmon to request a reopening of the case on Friday.
There are questions about whether the Kleins’ case was used “for a political agenda,” said the lawyers’ request to the BOLI commissioner.
A spokesman for BOLI told the Daily Signal the agency and its commissioner are “committed to fair enforcement” of the state’s anti-discrimination measure.
Separately, the Kleins, who have five children, suffered financial losses due to relocating their business into their home because of the trial, and a friend tried to use a crowdfunding site to pay their $135,000 fine.
But GoFundMe.com received a complaint about the campaign for the Kleins and promptly stopped it, saying they had been found guilty of a crime and were ineligible for help on GoFundMe.com.
The campaign was restarted on another crowdfunding site, Continue to Give, which raises money for churches, missionaries, nonprofits and individuals.
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The Kleins were permitted to receive the $109,000 raised in a day on the GoFundMe site.