Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

An Oregon state official and his agency violated the U.S. Constitution in multiple ways when they assessed a $135,000 penalty against Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein for refusing to violate their Christian faith by creating a wedding cake for a lesbian duo, according to a new appeal filed in the long-running case.

“In America, you’re protected by the Constitution, and you’re also innocent until proven guilty,” said Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, which is working on the Kleins’ case.

“Commissioner Brad Avakian decided the Kleins were guilty before he even heard their case. This is an egregious violation of the Kleins’ rights to due process. We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will remedy this by reversing or dismissing the government’s case against the Kleins.”

Boyden Gray, former ambassador to the European Union and founding partner of Boyden Gray and Associates, noted the Constitution “guarantees the rights of free exercise of religion, free speech, and due process for every American.”

Gray also has joined in the Kleins’ case.

“We hope the Oregon Court of Appeals will defend the Kleins’ rights in accordance with state and federal law,” he said.

The case was prompted by the Kleins’ decision in 2013 not to make a cake for a lesbian duo. The couple had sold products to the women before and said they would again but declined to provide the cake because its message violated their religious beliefs.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries responded with a lengthy and wide-ranging attack on the couple, ordering them to pay the $135,000 penalty and not to say “certain things about their religious faith.”

Officials overseeing the case even stated publicly that people with such beliefs need to be “rehabilitated,” according to court recrods.

Paul Kengor, Ph.D., has written “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left has Sabotaged Family and Marriage,” to explain the influence of “extreme-left radicals” on the American family.

The Kleins eventually closed their bakery.

Now they have appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, arguing the state violated their constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech and due process.

Avakian, for example, before hearing the case against the Kleins, “made numerous public comments on social media and in media interviews revealing his intent to rule against them,” according to the brief.

“He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ By failing to recuse himself from the case, while harboring a bias against the Kleins, Commissioner Avakian deprived the Kleins of their right to due process with a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal.”

The brief also contends the $135,000 penalty was gratuitous and excessive and that the agency order violates Oregon law, the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution. The complaint asserts the state agency violated constitutional prohibitions against compelled speech, free speech, due process and limits on the exercise of their religion.

Avakian did not respond to WND email and telephone requests for comment.

See the Big List of Christian Coercion compiled by WND, where officials, business owners and others have been bludgeoned by the law, activists – even judges – for their faith.

“This case addresses a BOLI final order misinterpreting Oregon’s public accommodations law, ORS 659A.403, which requires business to sell their goods and services to all persons, regardless of protected characteristics like sexual orientation. BOLI’s misapplication of Oregon law violates both the Oregon and United States Constitutions,” the brief argues.

“It unlawfully compels two law-abiding Oregon citizens, the Kleins, to devote their time and talents to create art destined for use in expressive events conveying messages that contradict their deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs,” it says.

The dispute, the brief says, “is about “the state forcing business owners to publicly facilitate ceremonies, rituals, and other expressive events with which they have fundamental and often, as in this case, religious disagreements. BOLI says the Kleins’ refusal to create custom-designed cakes for same-sex weddings tells complainants that ‘there are places [they] cannot go, things ]they] cannot … be.”

“The Kleins, however, have no power over where the complainants go, what they can be, or whether their identities are worthy of recognition. BOLI, of course, does have those powers over the Kleins and others like them. And its final order sends a clear message that their identity as a religious people is not worthy of state recognition and that they cannot operate a business in Oregon unless they facilitate same-sex weddings.”

The state said its ruling was about how “people in a free society should choose to treat each other.”

“BOLI’s charge is to fairly and impartially enforce the law, not to use it to bring about its vision of a free society, compelling people to engage in speech that violates their consciences in the name of rehabilitat[ing] religious dissenters,” the brief says.

It points out that refusing to do “gay weddings” is not the same as refusing to sell services to “gay” people.

Under the agency’s standard, the brief points out, a feminist photographer could be forced to facilitate fraternity initiations with pictures and an atheist store manager could be forced to provide bread for Wiccan rituals.

Citing Thomas Jefferson’s statement that compelling a man “to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors” is “tyrannical,” the brief argues that the people of Oregon have given BOLI certain powers, but not the authority “to determine how people in a society should treat each other, compelling speech and running roughshod over sincere religious beliefs.”

It also explains there were significant problems with the evidence that the state agency accepted, including the claim from Cheryl McPherson, the mother of complainant Rachel Cryer, that Aaron Klein called her an “abomination.”

What actually happened was that she went to the bakery to “confront” the Kleins about their beliefs and instruct them that she believed the Bible to be silent about “same-sex relationships.”

Aaron Klein listened to her, then responded with a verse from Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

McPherson left and reported that Klein had called her an “abomination,” a variation of the evidence that was not addressed by the state agency’s ruling, the brief explains.

The agency also repeatedly rejected the Kleins’ attempts to obtain a fair evaluation by restricting witnesses they could question regarding the evidence and refusing their requests to disqualify certain components.

The Kleins’ brief cites a recent ruling from a parallel agency in Colorado that ruled homosexual advocates who are bakers legally could refuse to produce a cake with a biblical message on it.

“There is no basis, however, in law or logic for forcing some bakers to associate with expressive events (same sex weddings) while exempting others from associating with expressive messages (Bible passages),” the brief argues.

WND previously reported that Samaritan’s Purse CEO Franklin Graham, who also is CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, called the ruling against the Kleins a travesty for the First Amendment.

Graham reacted on his Facebook page to the Oregon ruling against the Kleins.

Paul Kengor, Ph.D., has written “Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left has Sabotaged Family and Marriage,” to explain the influence of “extreme-left radicals” on the American family.

He wrote: “This is unbelievable! … Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner, upheld [the previous] ruling that the Kleins have to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for a long list of alleged damages including: ‘acute loss of confidence,’ ‘high blood pressure,’ ‘impaired digestion,’ ‘loss of appetite,’ ‘migraine headaches,’ ‘pale and sick at home after work,’ ‘resumption of smoking habit,’ ‘weight gain,’ and ‘worry.’ Give me a break. In my opinion, this couple should pay the Kleins $135,000 for all they’ve been through!”

He continued: “Even more outrageous is that Avakian has also now ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs. This is an outright attack on their ‪#‎freedomofspeech‬. A senior attorney with the The Heritage Foundation was absolutely right when he said, ‘It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America.'”

On Monday, WND reported four members of the Colorado Supreme Court, including a justice who boasts on a state website of being a homosexual-rights advocate, refused to intervene in a case in the state that is similar to the Kleins’. There, a state agency ruling is forcing a Colorado baker to violate his Christian faith by baking a cake for a homosexual duo.

The court on Monday issued a terse statement denying a petition for review. It said that Chief Justice Nancy Rice and Justice Nathan Coats would have reviewed the case because of the important constitutional questions it raises. But four other justices, including Monica Marquiz, who boasts of winning the Colorado GLBT Bar Association’s 2009 Outstanding GLBT Attorney Award, joined with a growing social movement that insists homosexual rights trump the religious rights protected by the Constitution.

For Rice and Coats, the issues that need to be reviewed include whether the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA) “requires Phillips to create artistic expression that contravenes his religious beliefs about marriage,” whether “applying CADA to force Phillips to create artistic expression that contravenes his religious beliefs about marriage violates his free speech rights under the United States and Colorado Constitutions” and whether “applying CADA to force Phillips to create artistic expression that violates his religious beliefs about marriage infringes his free exercise rights under the United States and Colorado Constitutions.”

The other three justices joining the campaign were Brian Boatright, William Hood III and Richard Gabriel..

Colorado’s antagonism to Christians was apparent when Diann Rice, a member of the state civil rights commission, which reviewed the allegations, said: “I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting. Freedom of religion and religion has been used to justify all kinds of discrimination throughout history, whether it be slavery, whether it be the Holocaust, whether it be – I mean, we – we can list hundreds of situations where freedom of religion has been used to justify discrimination. And to me it is one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use to – to use their religion to hurt others.”

Hear a recording of Rice’s statement:

See the Big List of Christian Coercion compiled by WND, where officials, business owners and others have been bludgeoned by the law, activists – even judges – for their faith.

 

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