The Christian-owned bakery at the center of a same-sex marriage controversy in Oregon has posted a message to its Facebook page announcing its closure.
The married couple who operated Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Aaron and Melissa Klein, declined a request to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple in 2013.
The customers who were turned away, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, lodged a complaint against the Kleins. An administrative judge agreed that the bakers had unlawfully discriminated against the women and ruled in April 2015 that the bakers should pay the couple $135,000 compensation.
The sum was agreed by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) in July 2015, who decreed that the bakers had to pay the compensation, ‘in damages for emotional and mental suffering resulting from the denial of service.’
At the same time as the case made national headlines, the Kleins raised many thousands in donations from those who supported their decision to discriminate against the women.
They raised around $110,000 from a GoFundMe page before the campaign was shut down by the site. They then raised in excess of $350,000 via a campaign on ‘faith-based giving platform’ Continue to Give.
They closed their store in August 2013, but continued to take orders from home, but their attorney has said they are now not operating their business at all.
The Kleins legal representation is the First Liberty Institute, which has handled several high-profile religious-based discrimination cases.
‘The Kleins closed their business months ago and simply now updated their page to reflect that,’ said First Liberty Institute attorney Hiram Sasser to Patriot Post.
The Kleins, who are parents to five children, paid the fine last December but it is being held by the state of Oregon as the Kleins have launched a legal appeal against the fine.
‘We are continuing our appeal and look forward to achieving justice for them and all people of faith who may find themselves in similar circumstances in the future,’ said Sasser.
GSN has approached the Kleins and First Liberty for further comment.
In an article for The Advocate earlier this month, Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer said that despite the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruling in their favor, the last three years had been very emotionally challenging. They have received many hateful and abusive calls and emails from all over the world, at the same time as they have been raising two adopted daughters with high-needs.
In a statement to GSN, Amy Herzfeld-Copple and Nancy Haque, Co-executive directors, Basic Rights Oregon, said, ‘In 2007, Oregon passed one of the nation’s strongest LGBTQ non-discrimination laws recognizing that Oregonians believe in treating others as we ourselves would want to be treated.
‘The Sweet Cakes case really struck a chord with many Oregonians, because the business owners believed they had the right to deny services because of their religious beliefs. Oregonians know that our religious beliefs don’t entitle any of us to discriminate against others.’