GRESHAM, Ore. — The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has issued a gag order against the Christian owners of a bakery in the state, banning them from speaking about their convictions not to participate in same-sex ceremonies by baking, decorating and delivering a cake for the event.
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” the order, written by Commissioner Brad Avakian, reads.
“… Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex weddings). This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the couple posted to their business Facebook page following the order. “According to the state of Oregon, we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will not give up this fight, and we will not be silenced.”
Reports state that the order came as a result of comments made to the media that they would stand by their faith and not participate in future homosexual events.
As previously reported, Aaron and Melissa Klein operate Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, which is now operated from the couple’s home after the Kleins’ shut their doors due to harassment. In January 2013, Aaron was approached by a mother and her daughter as the two were interested in a cake for the daughter’s upcoming wedding—to her lesbian partner.
“My first question was what’s the wedding date,” Klein told television station KTW in Portland. “My next question was [the] bride and groom’s name. … The girl giggled a little bit and said, ‘It’s two brides.’”
He then informed the women that the bakery does not make cakes for homosexual events.
“I apologized for wasting their time and said that, unfortunately, we do not do same-sex marriages,” Klein explained.
The women left Sweet Cakes upset about the incident, and later, one of them filed a complaint with the state. The Oregon attorney general’s office soon launched an investigation against the Klein’s as the state’s non-discrimination laws prevent public accommodations from being denied to any individual on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex [or] sexual orientation.”
But Klein states that he regularly serves homosexuals. He believes that there is a difference between serving homosexuals in general and having to personally facilitate same-sex ceremonies, which is an act of participation.
“I have customers come in almost on a weekly basis that are homosexual,” he said. “They can buy my stuff. I sell stuff. I talk with them. That’s fine. … This was not the first time we’ve served these girls.”
“We were being asked to participate in something that we could not participate in,” Klein’s wife, Melissa, noted.
Some Christians believe that being a part of a same-sex event violates the biblical command in 1 Timothy 5:22 not to be “partakers in other men’s sins,” as well as the command in Ephesians 5:7, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them.”
In February, a judge with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Christian bakers are guilty of discrimination for declining to make the cake, thus moving the matter into the sentencing phase. The Kleins had expressed concern prior to the ruling that if they were forced to pay a fine for declining the cake over their Christian convictions, the penalty would “definitely” bankrupt the family.
The two women, who have been identified as Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, submitted individual lists of just under 100 aspects of suffering in order to receive damages. They included “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “distrust of men,” “distrust of former friends,” “excessive sleep,” “discomfort,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “loss of pride,” “mental rape,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain” and “worry.”
But the Kleins told the court that they too had suffered because of the attacks that they received over their desire to live out their Christian faith in the workplace. They stated that they endured “mafia tactics” as their car was vandalized and broken into on two occasions, their vendors were harassed by homosexual advocates resulting in some businesses breaking ties with them, and they received threatening emails wishing rape, death and Hell upon the family. As a result, they had to close their business and move it into their private home.
In April, Alan McCullough, an administrative judge with the bureau, recommended a fine of $135,000, with one of the women receiving $75,000 and the other $60,000. Prosecutors had sought damages of $75,000 each. Last week, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries accepted McCollough’s recommendation and ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 to the women.
The Kleins plan on fighting the ruling in court and are refusing to pay the damages.
“We stand for God’s truth, God’s word and freedom for ALL Americans,” the couple wrote on Facebook. “We are here to obey God, not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave His one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!””