A Portland, Oregon, lesbian couple has been awarded $135,000 in compensation from a bakery which denied their request for a wedding cake on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer asked Sweet Cakes by Melissa in 2013 to bake the cake. The company is operated by husband and wife duo Aaron and Melissa Klein.
“I asked for the name of the bride and groom. She informed me that it was two brides. And I literally apologized to her. I said I’m sorry, I didn't mean to waste your time," said Aaron of the 2013 incident.
The Bureau of Labour and Industries (BOLI) ruling issued Thursday, which awarded $75,000 to Rachel and $60,000 to Laurel for emotional damages, confirmed a preliminary decision by another judge.
“Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion,” the BOLI decision read, according to KPTV.
The Kleins will now appeal the decision.
“The final ruling has been made today. We have been charged with $135,000 in emotional damages, But also now Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding) This effectively strips us of all our first amendment rights. According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced. We stand for God's truth, God's word and freedom for ALL americans. We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight,” the Kleins said in a Facebook post, reported by the Huffington Post.
However, the BOLI decision emphasized that such individual rights were not the issue in the case against the Sweet Cakes business.
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation,” the order said.
Under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, private businesses are not allowed to deny service or discriminate unlawfully against potential customers, the BOLI advised, according to KPTV.
“We endured daily, hateful attacks on social media, received death threats and feared for our family's safety, yet our goal remained steadfast. We were determined to ensure that this kind of blatant discrimination never happened to another couple, another family, another Oregonian,” a statement by the Bowman-Cryers said, as reported by Huffington Post. “Everyone deserves to be treated as an equal member of society.”