Oregon Judge: Baker Who Ran Business Based on Her Christian Faith Discriminated Against Lesbians

By Penny Starr | February 6, 2015 | 10:41am EST

(CNSNews.com) – An administrative law judge in Oregon has ruled against Melissa Klein’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a lesbian couple after Klein declined to make their wedding cake because of her biblical belief that marriage is the sacred union of one man and one woman. A hearing in March will now determine what fines will be levied against Klein for “damages” suffered by the lesbians.

Melissa Klein fought back tears as she spoke on a panel with her husband, Aaron, about their belief in traditional marriage and its role in the wedding cakes they made at their Oregon bakery at the Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26, 2014. The couple were found guilty of discrimination by the state of Oregon last year and are fighting the ruling in court.(CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Attorneys for Klein, owner with her husband Aaron Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore., had sought to have the case dismissed and to be awarded $200,000 in legal costs and damages.

But Judge Alan McCullough refused and instead issued an interim order ahead of the March hearing that says the Kleins had “unlawfully discriminated against the same-sex couple by denying them full and equal access to a place of public accommodation,” under the Oregon Equality Act, according to The Oregonian.

Paul Thompson, the attorney representing the lesbians, told The Oregonian he was happy with the ruling.

But Anna Harmon, one of three attorneys representing the Kleins, said in an email to The Oregonian that the judge’s ruling wrongly interpreted the state law, which she said protects “the right not to design and create a work of art celebrating an event which violates the tenets of [the Klein’s] religion.”

“This is a wrong and dangerous result for religious liberty and rights of conscience in Oregon,” Harmon said.

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The Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse, posted a Facebook comment about the judge’s Jan. 29 ruling.

“I am outraged that today an Oregon judge ruled against Christian bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes, who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding,” said Rev. Graham. “Aaron and Melissa were simply living up to their convictions—they did not want to participate in the wedding ceremony based on their belief in the biblical definition of marriage.”

“[The Kleins] have been forced to move their business to their home due to harassment from gay activists, and now the fines may completely bankrupt them,” he said. “I pray that they will fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, and that we as freedom-loving Americans would stand behind them with our prayers and financial support.”

Family Research Council President tony Perkins, commenting on the Kleins’ case and other similar battles, said, “Unfortunately for the parents of five, wedding vendors like them may soon have no choice. In the free market, the courts no longer seem to recognize the right to believe what you want. Owners of small businesses like Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Arlene's Flowers, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Hands On Originals, and others are seen as nothing more than tools of the government to think and believe as the state sees fit. If they refuse, as Aaron and Melissa have done, Oregon is threatening to bring the full weight of the government to bear.”

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