A bakery that was ordered to pay a $135,000 fine after refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage ceremony filed a brief on Monday with the Oregon Court of Appeals challenging the decision.
Attorneys for the Melissa and Aaron Klein, who own Sweet Cakes by Melissa, argued in the brief that the family’s 1st and 14th Amendment rights were violated.
“The Constitution guarantees the rights of free exercise of religion, free speech and due process for every America,” said attorney Boyden Gray, former White House counsel for President George H.W. Bush. “We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will defend the Kleins’ rights in accordance with state and federal law.”
Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins, said Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian “decided the Kleins were guilty before he even heard the case.”
The attorneys note that Mr. Avakian made a series of social media posts and public statements about the Kleins before hearing the case. In an interview with The Oregonian in August of 2013, he said the Kleins had “disobey[ed]” Oregon law and needed to be “rehabilitate[d].”
“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” he said.
“The goal is never to shut down a business,” he added. “The goal is to rehabilitate.”
“This is an egregious violation of the Kleins’ rights to due process,” Mr. Shackelford said. “We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will remedy this by reversing or dismissing the government’s case against the Kleins.”
In addition to fining the Kleins $135,000 for mental, physical and emotional damages, Mr. Avakian also issued a gag order to prevent the family from speaking about the case publicly.
The Kleins declined to bake a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, a lesbian couple who has since married.
Mr. and Mrs. Klein said they did not decline to serve the couple because of their sexual orientation, noting that they had previously served one of the women who filed the complaint. Rather, they said participating in the specific wedding ceremony would have violated their religious beliefs about marriage.
In his ruling, Mr. Avakian said there is “no distinction” between the two scenarios.