Baker Investigated For Refusing To Make Cake For Same Sex Couple

Thought crimes vs. the First Amendment in Oregon (via The Blaze)

(KGW) The Oregon Department of Justice is looking into a complaint that a Gresham bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a same sex marriage.

It started on Jan. 17 when a mother and daughter showed up at Sweet Cakes by Melissa looking for the perfect wedding cake.

“My first question is what’s the wedding date,” said owner Aaron Klein.  “My next question is bride and groom’s name … the girl giggled a little bit and said it’s two brides.”

Klein apologized to the women and told them he and his wife do not make cakes for same-sex marriages.  Klein said the women were disgusted and walked out.

“I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,” said Klein.  “A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife … that to me is the beginning of marriage.”

The charge would be for discrimination in a public place under ORS 659a.403. Looking at the entire portion of ORS 659a, civil penalites can be assessed at up to $1,000 (659a.855). The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries can also forced the defendant to cease and desist. Furthermore, the defendant isn’t entitled to a trial by jury in front of his/her peers, but instead must face a tribunal of Bureau of Labor employees.

Obviously, Klein is receiving lots and lots of hate mail and abuse for his stance (which, in fairness, is the right of people who are upset), but it is the notion of a thought crime versus freedom of religion that is the problem. The Government attempting to harm an individual for simply refusing to make a wedding cake because of his religious beliefs. It’s not like there aren’t lots of other bakers.

Oh, wait, I forgot, he didn’t build that business, so The Government can tell him how to operate at every step.

Crossed at Right Wing News and Stop The ACLU.

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6 Comments

Comment by gitarcarver
2013-02-03 10:19:02

This is not the first time this type of case has surfaced. In the past, businesses such as the baker’s have lost because of the business being in the “public arena,” which means that your rights take a back seat to the rights of the public and those who enter your store.

The exceptions in cases like this jhave been in cases where there is an artistic element to the product. A photographer turned down a gig to photograph a gay wedding because of his beliefs and was told by the state he had to comply until he appealed saying artists are free under the first amendment to not express themselves. That argument won the case.

It is a complex issue. For example, do we want a Muslim butcher to not serve a customer unless that customer can show they haven’t touched pork? Do we want pacifists being able to say you cannot bring a concealed weapon onto the premises? Do we want some church based on the idea of “racial superiority” saying members of a certsin race can’t eat at a lunch counter?

Personally, I think the government should stay out of this one. This is one area where the market can and does allow for diversity.

 
Comment by Brian
2013-02-03 10:31:04

Pitiful. Sad. Tragic.

 
Comment by Dana
2013-02-03 11:49:57

Gitarcarver is right, but he missed the most basic part of the law. It was by considering businesses open to the public as public accommodations that the federal government was able to require businesses such as restaurants to serve black customers, way back in the 1960s. The law does not, and cannot, require a restaurant to alter its menu, such as, for example, requiring a kosher menu for any potential Jewish patrons, but if a customer wants something which is on the menu — in this case, a wedding cake — the restaurant cannot decline to serve it if they have it available to serve to other customers. (The law can’t be used to punish a restaurant owner just because he has run out of a particular item that he normally carries.)

It’s pretty easy to see how the law would apply to the baker in question. If, for example, an interracial, heterosexual couple wanted a wedding cake, with a little statue of a black groom and white bride, and the baker refused on the grounds that he did not believe in interracial marriage, we all know what would happen.

 
Comment by john
2013-02-03 14:19:38

And of course Aaron Klein has every right to move to a different state but if he wishes to continue to do business in OR he will have to obey their rules.

 
Comment by gitarcarver
2013-02-03 14:24:54

Dana,

While I agree with you to a large extent, just having a “wedding cake” on the menu does not mean the baker has to accomodate all requests for a wedding cake. For example, if the client wants two figures on the cake engaged in coitus that the baker has to make himself, he may not have to make that cake.

My point is that courts have allowed for “artistic refusals.”

What I wonder is if the baker accepted the order and then told a baker / artist on their staff to make the cake and that person refused on the basis of a religious objection.

The business is then in position of having the government force them to make a cake for which they cannot fire the worker for failing to make that same cake.

 
Comment by Gumball_Brains Subscribed to comments via email
2013-02-03 23:13:57

Here’s a question. Businesses have the right to refuse service for tons of reasons. Many post their reasons on the front door. Many food places state that they refuse to serve to people without shoes or shirts.

WHY?

Why is that allowed but serving to people who’s lifestyle you are opposed to doesn’t? Isn’t going without clothes a lifestyle?

And, we have had businesses win in court based upon their business practice. Men are not forced upon Hooters as waiters. Women are required to wear the dress code of the establishment.

Can you force a business to do anything just because they are “public”?

 

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