Originally posted in The Christian Institute
The US Supreme Court has ordered a review of a ruling against Christian bakers who declined to make a same-sex wedding cake.
A state court ruling in 2017 upheld a $135 000 “discrimination” (R1.9-million) fine which had put Melissa and Aaron Klein’s bakery out of business.
But following the success of Masterpiece Cakeshop’s case, the Supreme Court sent the matter back to the Oregon appeals court to reconsider the outcome.
The case began in 2012 when the Kleins turned down an order for a wedding cake from lesbian couple Rachel and Lauren Bowman-Cryer.
They said to endorse same-sex marriage would violate their religious belief that marriage is for one man and one woman.
But the Kleins lost the case, with the lesbians claiming that the bakers had discriminated on grounds of sexual orientation and caused them ’emotional damage’.
The state appeals court later upheld that ruling, rejecting the bakers’ argument that they should not have to “express a message – a celebration of same-sex marriage – with which they disagree”.
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd v Colorado Civil Rights Commission, justices reminded state officials that they cannot be hostile to the free exercise of the religious beliefs of its citizens.
The US Supreme Court have now asked the lower courts to reconsider the outcome of the Kleins’ case.
First Liberty Institute, who are representing the Kleins, said: “This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty of all Americans.”
“The constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.”
Last year, Ashers Baking Company won its appeal at the UK Supreme Court against a ruling which said it broke the law by refusing to make a pro-gay marriage campaign cake – not a wedding cake.
Initially, in May 2015, District Judge Brownlie ruled that Ashers Baking Company broke sexual orientation and political discrimination laws. The family appealed.
In October 2018, senior judges concluded: “The objection was to being required to promote the message on the cake. The less favourable treatment was afforded to the message not to the man.”
The case, which demonstrated the need for the law to reasonably accommodate family-run businesses with firmly-held beliefs, was backed throughout by The Christian Institute’s Legal Defence Fund.