Shed no tears for the owners of an Oregon bakery ordered to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple they turned away — they’ve raised more than three times that much through crowdfunding websites.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, have raised more than $370,000 through Continue to Give, a crowdfunding site specializing in faith-based projects. That’s the most money raised on behalf of individuals in the site’s three-year history, founder Jesse Wellhoefer told The Washington Times this week.
The Kleins also raised $109,000 through GoFundMe, reports Portland newspaper The Oregonian. GoFundMe discontinued the bakers’ campaign because it violated the site’s policy against funding beneficiaries involved in discrimination, but it allowed the Kleins to keep the money raised. They have also received an undisclosed amount through Samaritan’s Purse, a charitable organization headed by antigay evangelist Franklin Graham, The Oregonian notes.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, in a ruling that became final this month, ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in damages to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer for having discriminated against them in 2013 by refusing to provide a cake for their wedding. What Sweet Cakes’ owners did, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian wrote, “was more than the denial of the product”; it was a denial of the couple’s right to participate equally in society. “It was the epitome of being told there are places you cannot go, things you cannot do … or be,” he wrote.
The Kleins have vowed to appeal the order to the Oregon Court of Appeals, but “assuming the appeal is accepted, it could be months or even years before it reaches the appellate court,” The Oregonian reports.
In a statement issued this week through the Kleins’ lawyers — they are represented by the antigay Alliance Defending Freedom — Melissa Klein said they aren’t sure how exactly how they will use the funds they have raised. They have closed their storefront and operate the business from their home now, but “are continuing to face financial hardship,” she said, and they are “unsure at this time what other costs may be associated with our case in the future.” They are also waiting to see what the tax treatment will be for the money and whether the labor bureau will stay the collection of the damages during the appeal.