Christian bakers lose business, face $150 000 fine for refusing to bake same-sex marriage cake

Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa has been shut down after refusing to bake a same-sex wedding cake in 2013. Photo: George Rede/The Oregonian Read more:
Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa has been shut down after refusing to bake a same-sex wedding cake in 2013. (PHOTO: George Rede/The Oregonian).

Originally published in The Gospel Herald

When Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a cake promoting gay marriage in 2013, they never imagined it would mean the end of their business and a personal liability suit that could result in the couple paying up to $150 000 (R1.69m) in fines and damages.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled on Tuesday (February 3, 2015) that the couple, who owned Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, will have to pay the money to the lesbian couple who asked for the cake to be made.

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“You cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation,” Paul Thompson, the attorney representing the lesbian couple, said in a statement to The Oregonian. “The entire time, I felt the law was very much on our side because the law is black and white.”

The trouble started in January of 2013 when Laurel Bowman approached the bakery about making a cake for her upcoming wedding to another woman. When Melissa Klein told Bowman that they don’t do cakes for same-sex weddings, Bowman filed an anti-discrimination complaint with the labor bureau charging that the bakers had violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007.

While the Kleins didn’t officially label their bakery as a religious institution, they say that they have always “been jointly committed to live their lives and operate their business according to their Christian religious convictions,” according to a court affidavit.

The couple believed that they had the right to exercise their religious beliefs in their own privately owned business, but they were wrong. Oregon state law bans discrimination against LGBT people in public places just as it does for “race, sex, age, disability, or religion,” Bureau spokesman Charlie Burr said in a statement.

But the Kleins’ attorney sees the ruling as “wrong and dangerous,” voicing her thoughts on the precedent it will set in the future. “Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means,” she said.

The Kleins contend that they meant no hostility toward the couple, who have been customers of theirs for years, but simply felt the need to stick by their religious beliefs. “I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God,” Aaron Klein said. “I’d rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in than to see him bow down because one person complained.”

The Kleins now must wait for the official ruling on March 10 to see how much of the legal fines they’ll need to pay, but the total could be as high as $150,000. The couple admits that that amount would bankrupt them and be a concern for the future of them and their five children.

The state’s Labor Commissioner, Brad Avakian, will ultimately decide the family’s fate, but it doesn’t look good for them as Avakian has a history of siding against Christians in similar cases. In 2013, he told the Oregonian that it was the government’s desire to “rehabilitate” businesses like the Kleins’.

But Aaron Klein told Fox News that there will be no rehabilitation because it’s a matter of religious beliefs, not right or wrong.
“There’s nothing wrong with what we believe,” he said. “It’s a Biblical point of view. It’s my faith. It’s my religion.”


  1. Rehabilitation or we make you suffer? The lesbian couple were offended because they did not get their cake while the Christian couple with five kids to support must be bankrupted and possibly end on the street and that is okay? The offended lesbian couple feel it is right for them to suffer because they were offended? This lesbian couple are sick, have no compassion and display simple selfishness of their own beliefs at the expense of others. I pray that the Kleins are blessed, that they over come, and through this….the lesbian couple see the glory of God and repent and also know that our God is bigger than their god.

  2. Someone once said that these types actually go after Christians on purpose so that they can get public opinion on their side – almost as though they’re asking the world – no, BEGGING the world – to accept their twisted and contorted evil ways. Just have a look at yourself in the mirror Lesbian – do you see anything on your body that can initiate life? And you, gay male, do you see anything on your body, or inside your body that can nurture that life and bring it forth? No? I didn’t think so. Doesn’t it occur to you that the actions that you are involved in are NOT NATURAL? Is that perhaps just a little hint that you are seriously messed up? In SIX different places in the Holy Bible [Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; 1st Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 1:25-27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10]. And Christians – there is a highly dangerous trend starting up where gay preachers are trying to convince the general public that this kind of sick behaviour is OK – look here – and remember what our LORD Jesus was talking about when He spoke about us being deceived by false prophets in Matthew 24:24. If you watch this clip you can hear and feel the pure evil dripping off this characters tongue – in his whiny little gay voice he sounds most convincing and I’m sure there are many that he will convince – most notably the ministers daughter who put the website up in the first place. Oh people, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE use the common sense that God gave you – there is NO WAY in all of God’s Great Creation that homosexuality can even be REMOTELY ACCEPTABLE in the eyes of the LORD!!!

  3. This couple owned a business and refused to fulfil a reaasonable request to a customer. As a business owner you have no right to judge a customer regardless of your own beliefs. I do feel for them and hope that Christians will financially support them. But they need to really think very carefully about opening a business.

    • In a free economy every business transaction should be voluntary for BOTH parties. No outsider should dictate to you how you should run your own business. It is the businessperson’s prerogative not to do business that conflicts with their beliefs; notwithstanding that means they may have to sacrifice revenue because of their conscience. In a free market all enterprises have a right to do business or turn business away, to decide not to go into certain ventures if there is risk to their reputation, or to refuse deals that do not fit in with their overall strategy. The state has no place interfering with this.

  4. You know the Bible says preach and teach the gospel, and that Christians shouldn’t be separate from the world. Our commandments are to LOVE! Nowhere does the Bible say not to serve customers with other beliefs. Loving that lesbian couple by baking their cake may have given an opportunity to witness, which is a step leading to heir salvation. The lesbians were customers for years but suddenly offense comes in only when they get married? Actually in God’s eyes they were in sin all along, no difference now that they are getting married.

  5. The Word says that in the Last Days we will suffer growing persecution, and here it is. It’s not yet life threatening in the West, but watch this space…

    We need to stand together and rebuff these attacks on our faith, because the more we do nothing, the more Satan is going to use unbelievers to harass us…