A gay evangelical is raising funds to help an Oregon couple who was fined more than $150,000 for discriminating against an engaged lesbian couple in January 2013.
Last year, Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the “Sweet Cakes” bakery in Portland, Oregon, refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple who were about to get married.
The couple who ordered the cake, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, filed a complaint against the bakery with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, who recently ruled that there was “serious evidence that the couple broke the law by refusing to bake the cake,” according to Addicting Info.
The Kleins subsequently closed their shop and are facing a potential $150,000 fine, which they say could bankrupt them.
But Matt Stolhandske, a board member of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, a coalition of Christians who support same-sex marriage, recently launched an online campaign to raise money in hopes of covering the fine, even though he disagrees with their views, The Blaze reports.
Writing in a column published Friday on the Washington Post, Stolhandske explains the reason for his surprising action.
“The Kleins say the $150,000 fee will bankrupt her family,” he wrote. “I'm raising money to help offset that cost. I'll send whatever we raise along to the Klein family with a message of love and peace. I don't want them to suffer. But I am also pleading with them and other Christians to stop using the name of Jesus to explain to the LGBT community why we don't deserve access to the civil rights afforded to heterosexuals through the legal institution of marriage.”
“I didn’t want to be a part of her marriage, which I think is wrong,” Aaron Klein said at the time.
The Kleins, who have five children and are now operating out of their family home, plan to appeal the decision made by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry.
“They must see that our goals here are the same – to live our lives as we see fit and be treated equally under the law,” Stolhandske writes, hoping the couple will accept this sign of good will.
He created a donation page on rally.org, and even though the campaign has only raised a little over $3,000 as of this writing, it is spreading his “message of love and peace.”
“I know this is a lot to ask of Christians like Klein; to shower love on people like me who represent something she abhors," wrote Stolhandske. "So I’m trying to live that challenge myself.”
He adds that he expects outrage from members of the LGBT community for offering an “olive branch.”
“‘You’re an apologist for homophobes,’ they tell me. ‘How can you reward this anti-gay behavior? Who next will they choose not to serve? African Americans? Single mothers? Muslims? We cannot support this.’ To them I say: this is what an olive branch looks like. I am not rewarding their behavior, but rather loving them in spite of it.”
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