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Oregon Appeals Court Upholds Discrimination Ruling Against Antigay Bakers

30 December 2017

When Aaron Klein discovered the cake was for a gay couple, he told the women he and his wife did not make cakes for same-sex weddings due to their religious beliefs. In the vast majority of all employment, housing and public accommodations complaints filed under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, BOLI investigators have found that no substantial evidence exists to support charges of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Under Oregon law, businesses can not refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they can not turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion.

"Today's ruling sends a strong signal that or remains open to all", Brad Avakian, the state's labor commissioner, said in a written statement.

The decision will likely be the most controversial ruling, and the one with the biggest impact, handed down by Avakian during his almost 10 years in the role.

The appeals court verdict, released on Thursday, came nearly nine months after attorneys representing the Kleins and the attorneys for the Bureau of Labor and Industries argued before the three-judge panel.

An attorney for the Kleins, who closed their bakery not long after being ordered to pay the heavy fine, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

The Sweet Cakes by Melissa decision comes just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a very similar case: Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Smith County children without a home after Christmas Eve fire
They have opened a shelter at the First Baptist Church on East Main Street in Spartanburg for those residents. Dennis said it looked like the fire started in the garage where the man was doing work on one of the cars.

The Kleins' couple said they still receive threats against them.

The Bowman-Cryers were married in 2014 after a federal judge struck down Oregon's same-sex marriage ban.

"We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build", Melissa Klein said following oral arguments before the Oregon Court of Appeals in March. All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally. And though the bakery paid that amount, they also appealed the ruling, claiming that the state's non-discrimination law infringes on their constitutionally protected rights to religious freedom and free speech.

In the ruling, Judge Chris Garret wrote that Avakian's order does not violate the Klein's free speech rights because it simply "requires their compliance with a neutral law".

Klein said she feels like the government violated her family's religious beliefs and told her what to believe.

They are still trying to overturn the decision that they should pay compensation. However, that had no effect on the outcome or the award for damages.

Oregon Appeals Court Upholds Discrimination Ruling Against Antigay Bakers