A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals rejected a petition by Melissa and Aaron Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to overturn the ruling by the state's labor commissioner as a violation of their rights under the U.S. Constitution to freedom of religion and expression.
After losing the long-running court case past year, the Christian couple was ordered to pay $135,000 in costs and damages.
The couple had no idea a simple item on their pre-wedding to-do list would end in such controversy.
PORTLAND, OR-The Oregon Court of Appeals today upheld emotional distress damages for a same-sex couple denied service by the Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham. Rachel Bowman-Cryer and her mother stopped by the shop for a tasting and to order the cake.
The decision comes weeks after a Christian cake artist from Colorado opened a case at the US Supreme Court over the right to refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony.
In 2015, Aaron and Melissa Klein were ordered by Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries to pay a $135,000 judgment to the lesbian couple. It's unclear how much impact a decision in that case might have in the case involving the Kleins. The money was placed in a government account until the appeals process ends.
The Kleins weren't available for comment Thursday.
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The Kleins' couple said they still receive threats against them. "It's a great day for equality in OR".
The Bowman-Cryers were married in 2014 after a federal judge struck down Oregon's same-sex marriage ban.
Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer praised the ruling in a statement released through their attorney: "It does not matter how you were born or who you love". All of us are equal under the law and should be treated equally.
Melissa Klein positioned earlier this year that the bakery did not discriminate against the lesbian couple, whom they had served before their wedding cake request, and only asks for the right to be allowed not to participate in a gay wedding.
The legal battle made national and global headlines.
First Liberty, one of the nation's most prominent religious liberty law firms, represented the Kleins.
Since their complaint became public, the Bowman-Cryers have received "countless" harassing messages calling them evil and "the dumb lesbians who ruined those Christian bakers' lives", according to Lambda Legal's brief. In that case, the bakery refused to create a cake for a same-sex couple's 2012 wedding reception. "But neither the sincerity, nor the religious basis, nor the historical pedigree of a particular belief has been held to give a special license for discrimination".