Readers of this blog likely know that in 2015, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide, Brad Avakian, Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries “BOLI” Commissioner, issued his Final Order in a BOLI case entitled In the Matter of Melissa Elaine Klein, dba Sweetcakes by Melissa.
BOLI Commissioner Avakian ruled that the respondents in the Sweetcakes case, Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian owners of a bakery, who, pursuant to their sincerely held Christian beliefs, refused to create a personalized cake for the complainants’ same-sex wedding, violated Oregon law. Commissioner Avakian held that the Kleins violated Oregon’s public accommodations law, which prohibits a place of public accommodation from discriminating against a person based on their sexual orientation. He further ruled that the Kleins must pay the complainants $135,000 in damages.
Commissioner Avakian also accused the Kleins of “bigotry” in his Final Order.
In 2017, the Oregon Court of Appeals affirmed BOLI’s ruling that the Kleins violated Oregon’s public accommodations law, thereby upholding the $135,000 damages award against them. The court rejected the Kleins’ First Amendment free speech and free exercise of religion arguments. In 2018, the Oregon Supreme Court refused to consider the case. The Kleins can now ask the U.S. Supreme Court to exercise its discretion to hear their appeal.
Readers can monitor this issue through the Religious Law Update Blog on the top of the Home page of www.kaempflawfirm.com.