An Oregon bakery which refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple is facing a fine for $150,000 – which could leave them bankrupt.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery, had refused to serve a lesbian bride-to-be in January 2013 because of their religious beliefs.
State investigators found this was a violation of the lesbian couples’ civil rights, as Oregon law bans discrimination against LGBTI people in businesses.
The Kleins, who have since closed their store and operate exclusively from home, told the Values Voter Summit in Washington D.C the fine they are facing would be enough to close their business for good.
Speaking to the group, Melissa Klein said: ‘It’s definitely impacted us pretty hard financially, and it’s been a little stressful, but…we have the Lord and so He’s been keeping us strong.’
Melissa also spoke of her distress at the prospect of her business closing, bursting into tears whilst saying: ‘If [straight couples] chose me to do their cake… I would just feel so honored to be a part of such an amazing, special day.’
Unfortunately, this honor was not shared with LGBTI couples.
The couple now face a court hearing on 7 October, which could last through the week.
The Kleins have attempted to raise support through their Facebook group, asking customers to pray for them.
Another post, a quote by Christian preacher Rick Warren posted by the couple, reads: ‘Our culture has accepted 2 huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. Second is that to love someone means that you must agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.’
However, the posts have garnered criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike.
One comment from a Christian reads: ‘Melissa – you are not a Christian and those who support you are not Christians – you are bigots, plain and simple, using your twisted religious views to try to shield your bigotry. A bigot is a bigot no matter how you wrap it.’
Previous customers of the Kleins, who claim they have nothing against LGBTI people, include Restored Hope – a group which advocates ex-gay ‘therapy’ – which they called a ‘wonderful ministry’.