The Christian owners of a Portland, Ore., bakery are waiting to hear whether state officials will fine them for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to make a cake for Laurel Bowman and Rachel Cryer, citing their biblical belief that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Bowman claimed discrimination and filed a complaint against the bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, for refusing to serve her. State law prohibits businesses from refusing to serve customers based on their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The Kleins maintain the U.S. Constitution protects them from being forced to participate in something that violates their conscience and religious beliefs.
Neither Oregon nor federal law recognizes same-sex “marriage,” but that could soon change. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act—which restricts marriage to one man and one woman—later this year. If the justices strike down the law, they could soon face a slew of cases involving business owners like the Kleins.
In New Mexico, a photographer is facing thousands of dollars in fines for refusing to photograph a same-sex ceremony. She has taken her case to the state Supreme Court. A retreat house in New Jersey also is facing a discrimination lawsuit for refusing to host a same-sex civil union ceremony, according to a report in EWTN News.
In other countries that recognize same-sex unions but not religious liberty, Christian-owned businesses have lost discrimination cases for refusing to offer services related to the ceremonies.
In Oregon, the Kleins insist they serve all customers, regardless of their sexual orientation, something even Bowman and Cryer don’t deny. The couple discovered the bakery several years ago when they bought a wedding cake for Cryer’s mother and her husband.
Aaron Klein has maintained he never meant to hurt Bowman and Cryer. But he doesn’t think he should be forced to participate in something he disagrees with.
“I believe marriage is a religious institution between a man and woman as stated in the Bible,” Klein told The Oregonian. “When someone tells me that their definition is something different, I strongly disagree. I don’t think I should be penalized for that.”