Tag Archives: Bureau of Labor and Industry

“Victory … for Religious Liberty for All Americans” After Supreme Court Reverses State-Sponsored Punishment of Oregon Bakers

Lawyers for Oregon Christian bakers call today’s move by the U.S. Supreme Court is a “victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans.”

First Liberty Institute

Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. Even though same-sex marriage was not legal in the state at that point, the couple complained. State-sponsored moves followed – including a gag order and $135,000 fine – forcing the Kleins out-of-business.

Public targeting of the couple in notoriously ‘liberal’ Oregon was fueled by the outrageous comments by then-head of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Brad Avakian.

As the couple pointed out, Avakian publicly declared that Christians needed to be ‘rehabilitated’ for their beliefs:

[T]he Kleins argue that Avakian “said that ‘folks’ in Oregon do not have a ‘right to discriminate’ and stated that those who use their ‘beliefs’ to justify discrimination need to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ ” (Alterations by the Kleins.) Later, the Kleins characterize Avakian as stating that “the Kleins *** needed to be ‘rehabilitate[d].’ “

Caselaw

As I explain in this post, the Supreme Court didn’t choose to decide the case (grant cert) but instead reversed the Oregon Appeals Court decision uploading BOLI’s actions. The Court vacated the Oregon’s Appeals Court decision and told them to do it over in light of the nation’s highest court Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.

First Liberty attorney, Kelly Shackelford, says that Oregon, as in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, was openly hostile to the Kleins:

The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.

First Liberty Institute

First Liberty says Oregon’s contempt for the First Amendment was clear throughout its treatment of the Kleins:

The State of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) found that the Kleins had had violated Oregon’s public accommodations statute after Aaron and Melissa declined to design and create wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage. In addition to the $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages,” BOLI issued a gag order, preventing them from even talking about their actual beliefs. As a result, the Kleins were forced to shut down their bakery. Aaron and Melissa appealed the BOLI ruling to the Oregon Court of Appeals in April 2016. The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed the gag order but otherwise upheld the decision of BOLI in December 2017.

First Liberty Institute

First Liberty keeps a website about the Klein’s case. Here’s a video of the couple talking about the Supreme Court victory in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case:

Though the Supreme Court didn’t grant the certiorari in the case, the Klein’s case could end up back there. If the Kleins lose again in the Oregon Appeal’s Court they’re likely to appeal to the highest court again.

Oregon Bakers Who Refused to Make Cake for Same Sex Wedding Lose Round

“Americans Should Not Have to Choose Between Adhering to Their Faith or Closing Their Business, But That’s What This Decision Means”

sweet cakes

Likening them to blacks who were denied public accommodation due to their skin color, an Oregon administrative law judge has ruled a lesbian couple was denied their rights when Oregon bakers refused to make a cake for their same sex wedding. See the ruling below.

Here’s the back ground from the Zero:

The controversy began in January 2013 when the [Aaron and Melissa] Klein turned away Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman from their bakery, saying that providing a cake for their wedding would have violated their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage.

In August 2013, the women complained to the state Bureau of Labor and Industries. The agency conducted an investigation and in January 2014 brought charges that the Kleins had unlawfully discriminated against the couple because of their sexual orientation.

Oregon law bans discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in jobs and in places that serve the public, such as restaurants and bakeries.

One of the Kleins’ attorneys, Anna Harmon, says the Oregon law boils down to toeing the government line and selling out your faith or losing your business. 

The (administrative law judge) recognized that all of the State’s claims but one were baseless and not supported by the facts of the case,” she said in an emailed statement. “We view this as a partial victory. However, the (judge) ruled wrongly that the Kleins’ right not to design and create a work of art celebrating an event which violates the tenets of their religion is not protected by the Oregon or Federal Constitutions. This is a wrong and dangerous result for religious liberty and rights of conscience in Oregon…

Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries Chief, Brad Avakian, has already telegraphed he’ll rule against the Kleins when he takes up the case in March. The Kleins tried unsuccessfully to get the far left former legislator kicked off the case. 

Comment on what you think of the case below.

Aaron and Melissa Klein talked about their business and the fallout of the case with the state of Oregon during the Family Research Center Voter Values Summit recently. In it Aaron presents a dilemma he sees between law and the ability to run a business:

I could understand the backlash from the gay and lesbian community. I could see that; what I don’t understand is the government sponsorship of religious persecution

Sweet Cakes Bakery