The owners of the Oregon bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are now refusing to pay them damages – despite raising $500,000 online.
Aaron and Melissa Klein – who own Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Portland – were found to have violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries in July, and were ordered to pay $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
The Kleins are now appealing the decision and refusing to pay, claiming financial hardships.
‘It’s difficult to understand the Kleins’ unwillingness to pay the debt when they have, very publicly, raised nearly a half million dollars,’ labor bureau spokesperson Charlie Burr told the Oregonian.
‘They are entitled to a full and fair review of the case, but do not have the right to disregard a legally binding order.’
Even before the final order was issued, supporters of the couple set up three online crowdfunding campaigns to help with expenses. They had raised at least $515,000 as of Wednesday.
The Kleins have defended their actions and accused the state of ‘oppressive persecution’ and violating their right First Amendment right to freedom of religion.
‘They continue to stand on their well-established constitutional rights to live and work based on their values and beliefs,’ an attorney representing the couple, Herb Grey, told Reuters.
‘Religion is a protected class just like sexual orientation is.’