Only weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a Christian baker was not required to prepare a same-sex “wedding” cake for a homosexual duo because of Colorado’s hostility toward his faith, the issue is once again being appealed to the nation’s highest court.
The Oregon Supreme Court refused this week to consider the arguments of an Oregon couple whose bakery was forced to close because of a $135,000 state penalty for their refusal to make a wedding cake for two women.
First Liberty Institute, which is representing Aaron and Melissa Klein, said the Oregon Supreme Court refused to act even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on nearly identical circumstances.
Kelly Shackelford, CEO for First Liberty, said no one in America “should be forced by the government to choose between their faith and their livelihood.”
“But that’s exactly what happened to our clients, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein,” he said.
“We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The Kleins explained to the couple, Rachel Bowman-Cryer and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, that providing a wedding 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 were worth $75,000 in damages to one and $60,000 in damages to the other.
Court records said then-Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian “made numerous public comments on social media and in media interviews revealing his intent to rule against them.”
“He stated that the Kleins had ‘disobey[ed]’ Oregon law and needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].'”
Earlier this month, the blatant hatred for Christian faith exhibited by a member of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was cited in a 7-2 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips.
In the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that “the record here demonstrates that the commission’s consideration of Phillips’ case was neither tolerant nor respectful of his religious beliefs.”
The state not only ordered Phillips to make cakes for same-sex couples, it required him to undergo a reindoctrination program.
State officials were given a tongue-lashing by the high court.
“The commission’s treatment of Phillips’ case … showed elements of a clear and impermissible hostility toward the sincere religious beliefs motivating his objection. As the record shows, some of the commissioners at the commission’s formal, public hearings endorsed the view that religious beliefs cannot legitimately be carried into the public sphere or commercial domain, disparaged Phillip’s faith as despicable and characterized it as merely rhetorical, and compared his invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust,” the U.S. Supreme Court said.
“No commissioners objected to the comments,” the ruling noted.
In fact, the state commission’s hostility toward Christian beliefs became evident at the outset of the case, when one member, Diann Rice, publicly exhibited bias against Phillips during a hearing, comparing him to a Nazi.
“I would also like to reiterate what we said in the hearing or the last meeting,” Rice said during consideration of Phillips’ case. “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:
State antagonism toward religion
WND reported evangelist Franklin Graham previously commented on the state’s antagonism toward the Kleins in the Oregon case.
On Facebook, 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!”
Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Association, said 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.'”
In addition to the fine, the lesbians’ complaint and state action against the couple triggered “hate mail, harassment, and threats of violence.”
First Liberty, when the Masterpiece case was announced, expressed optimism about the Sweetcakes case.
“Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others,” Shackelford said then. “In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy expressed similar sentiment recently during oral arguments in the Masterpiece case.
“Tolerance is essential in a free society. And tolerance is most meaningful when it’s mutual,” Kennedy said.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to intervene in a Mississippi case, which left standing a state law that protects from retaliation or punishment people who believe marriage is the union of one man and one woman, that gender is determined at birth and that sex is reserved for married couples.
A video about the Kleins: