The first Republican to fly to Oregon and hold a press conference with Melissa and Aaron Klein will get my vote.

To undo the eight years of the Obama era will take more than right thinking. It will take some in-your-face moral bravado. And a good place for a candidate to show it will be on a scaffold in the public square of Portland, Oregon.

As the reader may know, the Kleins operated a storefront bakeshop, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, in that very nearly godless environment.

In February 2013, these Christian parents of five refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The lesbians promptly filed a civil rights complaint against the Kleins, and their supporters set out to cripple their business.

Their tactics included death threats, vandalizing the bakery’s vehicle on several occasions, and the intimidation of the clients and vendors listed on the shop’s website.

“They have an odd way of showing tolerance,” Aaron said of the local neo-puritans when I interviewed him for my forthcoming book “Scarlet Letters, The Ever Increasing Intolerance of the Cult of Liberalism.”

Overwhelmed, the Kleins moved their business home in August of that year but were unable to list their phone number due to the constant harassment.

With the clientele whittled down to family and friends, the 35 year-old Aaron took a job driving a garbage truck to support the family.

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Two weeks ago, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 to the women for emotional damages including laughers like “distrust of men” and “weight gain,” two conditions that would seem inherent in the lesbian experience.

Ironically, at the time Melissa turned the couple’s request down, Oregon defined marriage as the union between one man and one woman, a constitutional amendment approved overwhelmingly by the many “bigots” of Oregon just nine years prior.

The fact that civilizations from the beginning of time have defined marriage thusly mattered not at all to the preening neo-puritans of Portland. They were altogether ready to slap a Scarlet H and worse on this young couple.

The comment section in a Huffington Post article on the business closure nicely captures the vindictive self-righteousness of our progressive friends:

If the practice of your faith hinges on the degradation and humiliation of God’s creations, might I suggest you’ve missed the mark entirely?

Allowing discrimination is not freedom of religion, it’s bigotry.

The constant self-victimization of religious zealots has become quite tedious.

Their religion is really a metaphor for ‘I’m a bigot and I hate gays and lesbians.”

So basically what they said is “We find homosexuals disgusting and we refuse to serve them, but it’s not discrimination because our religion says it’s OK.”

We don’t serve your kind here, because in our holy book, GAWD said “thou shalt not bake cakes for people like that.”

Wouldn’t a religious exemption from anti-discrimination laws have been nice for every bigot?

Of course, the Kleins never expressed any hatred of gays and never refused any gay person service. They simply refused to bake a cake honoring a practice contrary to their faith. No matter.

“Wanna discriminate against somebody based on your religion?” wrote one aspiring Torquemada. “Be prepared to be investigated, fined, and potentially shut down.”

In their mingling of law and morality, progressives mimic the polity of our early New England ancestors but are, if anything, less merciful. Dissent is no longer merely misguided. It is morally offensive.

The commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries certainly thinks so. Incredibly, last week, he ordered the Kleins “to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published” any challenge to the charges brought against them.

I have not heard a Republican candidate speak to the Klein issue yet. This is the defining issue of our time, and the silence is depressing.

In a recent National Review article, “Standing Up to the Ruling Class,” Angelo Codevilla makes a comparable argument and offers a solution.

“If a candidate were to challenge his opponents to bare-knuckle, Lincoln–Douglas sessions,” Codevilla concludes, “his example might lead fellow citizens to reject the combination of poisonous sloganeering and of dominance, submissiveness, and corruption that now passes for politics.”

No Democrat would ever agree to this. Their ideas are indefensible, and they know it. Republican candidates will have to do this on their own.

In their cringing denial of Donald Trump last week, several have shown themselves incapable of standing up for anything. The ones that do show some backbone are the ones that will get past Iowa.

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