It's official: not baking a cake will cost the former owners of an Oregon bakery $135,000.
On Dec. 28, an Oregon state appeals court let the $135,000 judgment against a bakery for refusing to create a wedding cake for a local lesbian couple stand, Reuters reports.
Melissa and Aaron Klein, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, petitioned the court to overturn the ruling, arguing that their refusal to serve the lesbians was guaranteed by their Constitutional right to freedom of religion and expression.
However, a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals rejected the petition, upholding the amount awarded to Rachel Bowman-Cryer and her wife, Laurel.
The cake-refusal incident occurred in January 2013, and the Kleins closed their bakery several months later due to negative publicity, but continued the business from home with the help of online donations.
"We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build," said Melissa. "I loved my shop. It meant everything to me and losing it has been so hard for me and my family."
The Kleins have already paid the $135,000 in damages, but that money was held in a government escrow pending the appeal court's decision.
"Today's ruling sends a strong signal that Oregon remains open to all," Brad Avakian, the state's labor commissioner, said in a written statement. "Within Oregon's public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the freedom to fully participate in society."
Ironically, all the lesbian couple wanted was an apology, notes the Daily Mail.
It all started when Laurel posted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau to warn other gay people they would not be catered to:
I just got angry. I decided I was going to write a review. I was going to warn other gay people: 'Don't go to this establishment.' So I pulled out my little phone with this tiny little screen and I typed in something to Google. I thought I was leaving a comment for the Better Business Bureau, and I didn't think much of it. It turned out to be an Oregon Department of Justice complaint. I didn't know you could do something like that on a phone. I just thought it was a comment.
Although the Department of Justice complaint was dropped, it was taken to court by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which resulted in the cash award.
"We didn't have a choice in how this was prosecuted. We didn't have a choice in the fine," Rachel explained.
Oregon has allowed gay marriage since 2014, and the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 stipulates that businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation.