In the wake of what many are viewing as a crushingly punitive and unfair judgment, former bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein were ordered by administrative judge Alan McCullough to pay $135,000 in fines to a lesbian couple. The Kleins declined to bake a wedding cake for the couple due to their religious beliefs.
Almost immediately, supporters set up a GoFundMe page on behalf of the family. Within seven hours, at approximately 6:30 pm Pacific time, it had received nearly $80,000 in funding.
An hour later, it had topped $100,000.
Then abruptly, at approximately 9:10 pm Pacific time, when the fund had a bit over $109,000 dollars, the account was closed.
In a statement regarding their decision to close the account, GoFundMe wrote: “After careful review by our team, we have found the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal.While a different campaign was recently permitted for a pizzeria in Indiana, no laws were violated and the campaign remained live. However, the subjects of the ‘Support Sweet Cakes By Melissa’ campaign have been formally charged by local authorities and found to be in violation of Oregon state law concerning discriminatory acts. Accordingly, the campaign has been disabled.”
However, a fast search through GoFundMe confirms the fundraising site has many requests for financial assistance from those facing legal actions, including criminal convictions.
The Stream reports, “A competitor of Sweet Cakes by Melissa … contacted GoFundMe to alert the crowd-funding company that the Kleins had violated the terms of service. She complained: ‘This business has been found GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION and is being allowed to fundraise to pay their penalty. The GoFundMe terms of service address hate speech, bigotry, criminal activity and sexism among other things in their campaign … The amount of money they have raised in a matter of a few hours by thousands of anonymous cowards is disgusting.‘”
It was shortly after this request was received that GoFundMe shut down the Klein’s fundraiser.
In a statement on the Klein’s Facebook page, they wrote: “The GoFundMe account that was set up to help our family was shut down by the administrators of GoFundMe because they claimed it was raising money for an illegal purpose. We have told GoFundMe that the money is simply going to be used to help our family, and there is no legitimate breach of their terms and conditions. We are working to get the account reinstated. … For all of you who gave to the GoFundMe account before it was shut down, we so appreciate your love and generosity. GoFundMe has told us that we will still receive those funds.”
The Klein’s new fundraising location can be found at Samaritan’s Purse.