Oregon Appeals Court Upholds Damages in Gay Wedding Cake Case

The Kleins closed their bakery not long after being ordered to pay the heavy fine when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.


(Reuters) — An Oregon state appeals court on Thursday let stand $135,000 in damages levied against the owners of a Portland-area bakery for discrimination after they refused on religious grounds to prepare a wedding cake for a local lesbian couple.

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals rejected a petition by Melissa and Aaron Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to overturn the ruling by the state’s labor commissioner as a violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution to freedom of religion and expression.

An attorney for the Kleins, who closed their bakery not long after being ordered to pay the heavy fine, could not immediately be reached for comment on Thursday.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong signal that Oregon remains open to all,” Brad Avakian, the state’s labor commissioner, said in a written statement.

“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the freedom to fully participate in society,” Avakian said.

The case stems from Aaron Klein’s refusal to bake a wedding cake for Rachel Bowman-Cryer in January 2013 because she was planning a same-sex wedding to her partner Laurel, which he said violated his religious convictions.

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed a formal complaint with the state labor bureau, which found they had violated anti-discrimination laws and awarded the damages.

The Bowman-Cryers were married in 2014 after a federal judge struck down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban.

The bakery case is one of many disputes nationwide since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June 2015 to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

Recommended Articles


  • I’m still sort of confused on this. I’ve never heard of a private business being required to serve all customers with providing services and/or products based on law. The exception that I’m able to recall was the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

    I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against as customers. This is a slippery slope. I as a Black business owner must sell and or provide services to a White supremacist if they are in need of what I’m selling?

    I think the couple should have taken the “no” and moved on to another vendor. I can’t reconcile how private entities are held to the same standard as the government when providing services or products.

    • I cannot believe that you are a Black business owner and wholly ignorant of the Public Accommodation Laws and the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott (in response to the arrest of Rosa Parks), the lunch counter sit-ins, etc.

      • grannybunny, I’ll admit I never knew about the Public Accommodation Laws. I’ve never been in the position of discriminating against anyone and would never do so if given the opportunity.

        Not an excuse but the reason I didn’t know is because I’m a Black man. I am living everyday without power and always victim to subjugation in American society. So from my vantage point, I am unfortunately ignorant to this portion of the law in context of private businesses and their relation to customers.

        Apparently in today’s society; Black people should being suing the hell out of American businesses for discrimination, since the Public Accommodation Laws were more than anything meant for Black people.

« Previous Article     Next Article »