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Oregon Baker's LGBTQ+ Discrimination Fine Reduced by Over $100k

Lesbian wedding cake and a judge’s gavel

An Oregon court upheld its original finding that the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa illegally discriminated against a same-sex couple, but said the fine's amount showed bias.


An Oregon baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple almost ten years ago has received a reduction in financial penalties.

Following an appeals court ruling, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Tuesday that Aaron Klein has been ordered to pay $30,000 instead of the $135,000 fine initially levied.

Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer filed a complaint in 2013 against Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The bakery refused to make the couple a wedding cake, the couple said.

Oregon's Court of Appeals twice upheld a ruling that the bakery discriminated against the couple, the Associated Press reports. The court ruled in January that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries did not exhibit religious neutrality when issuing the fine and remanded the case to the civil rights division.

In the 2018 Supreme Court Masterpiece Cakeshop case, in which the Supreme Court sided narrowly with a Colorado baker who refused service to a same-sex couple on religious grounds and had also been fined, the court wiped out the damages. According to the justices, Colorado's punishment was biased against the baker's faith. As a result, the Oregon Court of Appeals was ordered to revisit the Sweet Cakes case.

Considering the new Supreme Court standards, Oregon appellate judges believed the steep penalty demonstrated bias. Klein's illegal discrimination was why the state was allowed to penalize him, but the court also found that the agency had slipped "at least subtly" from its duty to be neutral regarding anybody's religion.

Thus, the Oregon Court of Appeals instructed the bureau, now headed by Hoyle, to reinvestigate the penalty.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer received $20,000 and her wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, $10,000 as compensation for the emotional, mental, and physical suffering that resulted from the denial of service, according to Hoyle's order.

Aaron and Melissa Klein abruptly closed their Gresham, Ore., store in 2016, three and a half years after they ignited a firestorm by proudly refusing service to the lesbian couple.

They headed to Montana, Melissa wrote in an online fundraiser she started in May. In the fundraising pitch, which has nabbed the bakers almost $32,000, Melissa Klein writes, "As you know, Aaron and I have been looking for a permanent home for our business, and we love this area as a family. There is a restaurant currently for sale, and not only do we believe as a family all things are possible, we believe in Jesus Christ our Savior!"

It's unclear to where Klein is referring. However, according to a local radio station, Sweet Cakes by Melissa opened in a new location in the town of Ronan, Mont., in 2021.

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