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Bakery fined thousands after refusing to sell wedding cake to lesbian couple

Bakery fined thousands after refusing to sell wedding cake to lesbian couple

A bakery in Gresham, Oregon will have to pay thousands to a lesbian couple for refusing to bake them a wedding cake.

Laurel Bowman and her fiancée could get up to $150,000 (£99,300, €131,700) after being refused service in January 2013.

The exact amount of compensation will be determined in a hearing on 10 March, but the couple could receive up to $75,000 (£49,650, €65,550) per person from the shop owners, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced.

The couple wanted to celebrate their wedding with a cake from Sweet Cakes by Melissa, but the co-owner of the bakery, Aaron Klein, refused to sell it to them when he found out it would be for their wedding.

According to Bowman, Klein cited religious belief as reasons for his refusal and called their upcoming marriage an ‘abomination unto the lord’.

Bowman filed a complaint with BOLI in late 2013, which the BOLI decided to investigate because refusing to serve the couple based on their sexuality would violate the Oregon Equality Act of 2007, a law protecting the rights of LGBTI Oregonians.

BOLI spokesman Charlie Burr told USA Today: ‘Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

‘The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation’.

The bakery’s owners may be religious but their shop is a private business and not a religious organization.

Burr said there had been significant evidence that the couple had been discriminated against because of their sexuality.

Public backlash caused the bakery closing its doors at the end of 2013 to turn into an ‘in home bakery’, but not without leaving a note reading ‘This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore‘, according to reports.

The Kleins, who blame the closing down of their bakery on ‘military style tactics’ of gay activists, say the case had a ‘pretty hard’ financial impact on them, but also claim that ‘the Lord’ will keep them going.