Bakery Must Pay $135,000 To Lesbian Couple For Refusing To Bake Wedding Cake

The owners of a Portland, Oregon bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple must pay $135,000 in damages, reports The Guardian.

Two years ago, Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer, citing religious beliefs, and now, thanks to a ruling from the Bureau of Labor and Industries, they must compensate the lesbian couple for the emotional suffering that refusal caused.

"This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage," explains Oregon labor commissioner Brad Avakian in the ruling. "It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal."

A 2007 Oregon law protects LGBT people in the areas of employment, housing, and public accommodations, however, the law also provided an exemption for religious organizations. This latest ruling, however, importantly clarifies that said religious exemption does not allow for private businesses to discriminate against potential customers, like the same-sex couple whose simple request for a cake on their wedding day was met with an unfortunately homophobic denial.

While the bakery owners' attorney, Anna Harmon, told The Guardian that the ruling is a case of “an overpowered elected official using his position to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees," many found it cause for celebration.

"This case struck a chord with many Oregonians because allowing businesses to deny goods and services to people because of who they are and whom they love is hurtful and wrong," said Jeana Frazzini, co-director of the gay-rights group Basic Rights Oregon, in a statement. We couldn't agree more.

More from Politics


R29 Original Series