Scroll To Top

Oregon Antigay Bakers' Case to Be Reviewed in Light of Supreme Court Ruling

Oregon Antigay Bakers' Case to Be Reviewed in Light of Supreme Court Ruling

Aaron and Melissa Klein

So it begins: The Supreme Court orders a review of the discrimination finding against Aaron and Melissa Klein, who turned away a lesbian couple.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s “license to discriminate” ruling in 303 Creative Services v. Elenis, the review of other anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination cases is beginning, with an Oregon bakery’s case up first.

The court Friday ordered review ofMelissa Klein v. Oregon Department of Labor in light of the 303 Creative decision, which upheld a conservative Christian website designer’s right to turn away same-sex couples seeking wedding websites. In the Klein case, the high court vacated lower courts' ruling that Klein’s business had illegally discriminated against a female couple seeking a cake for a commitment ceremony and ordered the Oregon Court of Appeals to reconsider the case.

Klein and her husband, Aaron, were running Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Ore., in 2013 when a lesbian couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, approached them about creating the cake for their commitment ceremony (same-sex marriage was not yet legal). The Kleins refused, citing their conservative Christian beliefs against same-sex unions. Aaron Klein was quoted as saying the lesbian couple’s relationship was “an abomination.”

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found that the bakery had violated state law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations as well as other venues. The Oregon Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court upheld this finding. The Kleins appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered review of the case in 2019 in view of its 2018 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, vacating a Colorado ruling against a baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Last year, the Oregon Court of Appeals found once again that the Kleins had committed illegal discrimination but ordered the Bureau of Labor and Industries to reconsider the $135,000 fine it had imposed on the Kleins, as the large fine supposedly reflected bias toward religion. That was reduced to $30,000. But they went back to the Supreme Court, and the discrimination ruling against them will be reconsidered again.

First Liberty, the right-wing legal group that represents the Kleins, celebrated the high court’s order. “It’s a win when the Supreme Court vacates a bad lower court decision like it did for Aaron and Melissa … but the case is not over,” Kelly Shackleford, First Liberty’s president, CEO, and chief counsel, said in an email to the Christian Post, a conservative site. “The Kleins have been fighting for the First Amendment for over a decade and we will stand with them no matter how long it takes to get the victory they deserve.”

The Kleins have closed their Oregon business but have reopened in Montana, according to business records.

Advocate Magazine - Gio BenitezAdvocate Channel Promotion

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories