Three judges on the Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed a penalty of $135,000 for a bakery whose owners refused to violate their Christian faith and promote lesbianism by providing a cake for two “brides.”
The fine was a death penalty for the bakery, forcing it out of business.
The Oregon judges, Joel DeVore, Chris Garrett and Bronson James, also determined that in today’s America, quoting the Bible can cause “emotional harm” to same-sex duos.
The case arose when Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, declined to provide a wedding cake for the same-sex duo, Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laural Bowman-Cryer.
The Kleins explained that providing the cake would violate their Christian beliefs, but the same-sex pair filed complaints with the Oregon Department of Labor and Industries. The agency investigated and found that the insults the lesbians endured was worth $75,000 in damages to one and $60,000 in damages to the other. (The second didn’t hear the quotation from the Bible directly but had it quoted to her later.)
Investigators, the judges said, “found that Aaron used the term ‘abomination’ in the course of explaining why he was denying service to the complainants on account of their sexual orientation, and further found that the complainant experienced emotional distress based on the use of that term. It is that nexus that underlies … [the] damages award.”
The word was used when Aaron Klein quoted Leviticus, stating, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” He was explaining that he followed the Bible and believed that its instructions on homosexuality are clear.
Based on that, DeVore, Garrett and James claimed the fine imposed by the state agency was legitimate.
“For instance, the order states that Rachel, who was brought up as a Southern Baptist, ‘interpreted [Aaron’s] use of the word ‘abomination’ [to] mean that God made a mistake when he made her, that she wasn’t supposed to exist, and that she had no right to love or be loved.’ Similarly, the order states that Laurel recognized the statement as a reference from Leviticus and, based on her religious background, ‘understood the term ‘abomination’ to mean ‘this is a creature not created by God, not created with a soul. They are unworthy of holy love. They are not worthy of life.'”
Despite the judges’ heavy reliance on the religious beliefs expressed by the same-sex duo, the judges gave no indication that the Kleins had a right to express their beliefs. The judges concluded it was a legitimate duty of the state to force Christians to promote same-sex duos.
“We reject the Kleins’ construction of [state law] and conclude that their denial of service was ‘on account of’ the complainants’ sexual orientation for purposes of that statute. As for their constitutional arguments, we conclude that the final order does not impermissibly burden the Kleins’ right to free expression under the First Amendment.”
The judges then claimed the Kleins “have made no showing that the state targeted them for enforcement because of their religious beliefs.”
The Kleins were represented by the non-profit legal group First Liberty.
First Liberty President Kelly Shackelford said freedom of expression for ourselves “should require freedom of expression for others.”
“Today the Oregon Court of Appeals decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein are not entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free speech,” he said.
“In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs.”
The case by the state further was undermined by the fact that labor commissioner Brad Avakian made statements condemning the Kleins even before he heard the case.
DeVore, Garrett and James concluded that the comments were of no account.
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.
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 court records. “He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].'”
WND reported 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 an earlier Oregon ruling against the Kleins.
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 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.'”
A similar case, brought by the state of Colorado on behalf of two homosexuals against Jack Phillips and his Masterpiece Cake Shop, is before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the Phillips case, the state’s antagonism to Christianity was evident from the outset.
That was 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 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:
DeVore, Garrett and James also ended up being out of step with a recent ruling in the lower courts. A judge in Kern County Superior Court in California rejected a demand in the Tastries Bakery case for a temporary restraining order against Cathy Miller, a cake artist.
The plan was to forbid her “from selling to anyone any item they are unwilling to sell” to the homosexual duo who complained in that case.
“Specifically, the government wanted a court order to compel Miller to create wedding cakes for LGBT persons even though doing so would violate her sincerely held religious beliefs. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) is defending Miller and appeared on her behalf at this morning’s court hearing,” the legal team explained.
“The government [dropped] this needless motion on Cathy without notice, forcing her to scramble with less than 12 hours to prepare,” said Charles LiMandri, the chief counsel for the organization. “This unprofessionalism is just another example of the LGBT activists and their government allies’ crusade to crush Cathy because of her Christian beliefs.”
Last August, “two LGBT activists entered Tastries purportedly wanting a wedding cake, even though they had gotten married the previous December,” the legal team said.
“Miller respectfully let the couple know that designing a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage violated her religious beliefs about marriage. She then recommended a local baker who could create their cake. The women promptly left and took to social media to broadcast what had happened, sparking hate messages and death threats against Miller and her employees.”
They later filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which launched an investigation and then ordered Miller to provide detailed answers to questions about her personal and business life.
The judge explained he hadn’t heard Miller’s version of events, there was no urgency because the demand for the cake was last August and the case involves “fundamental rights” for both sides.
Actually, religious rights are protected in the Constitution, while the rights to homosexual “marriage” were created by a narrow 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court in a ruling supported by two justices who publicly advocated for the status while the case was pending.
The dissenting minority, including Chief Justice John Roberts, contended the majority’s ruling was unconnected to the Constitution.