The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, the Oregon bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages. According to the Associated Press, the damages were ordered by Oregon’s bureau of labor and industries for the “emotional suffering” caused by the bakeries actions.
The bakery’s owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to bake the cake in 2013 citing their religious beliefs. The Kleins’ actions sparked a national debate about the right of private business owners to refuse services to members of the LGBTQ community based solely on abstract religious principles.
Oregon’s bureau of labor and industries ruled, however, that the couples violated the state’s 2007 discrimination law. The AP reports that the law, “provides an exemption for religious organizations, but the agency ruled that exemption does not allow private businesses to discriminate against potential customers.”
This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal, Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian said in the final order.
The Kleins’ attorney called the order unconstitutional and a violation of free speech principles. They will likely appeal the decision.
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