A Gresham, Ore., baker is now facing fire and praise from both advocates and opponents of same-sex relationships, and an investigation from the Oregon Attorney General's Office after he refused to make a cake for a lesbian wedding citing his Christian faith.
A report from KATU.com noted on Friday that Sweet Cakes owner, Aaron Klein, allegedly told the lesbian pair that "they were abominations to the Lord" when he refused to fulfill their order. One of the brides-to-be who filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office said Klein had previously made a cake for her mother's wedding but when it came time to celebrate the affections of her Sapphic companion he refused. Klein, however, denied the use of inflammatory language during their conversation.
"I apologized for wasting their time and said we don't do same-sex marriages," Klein told KATU in an on-camera interview. "(I)honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn't mean to make anybody upset, (it's) just something I believe in very strongly," he said.
When The Christian Post contacted Klein for further comment on Tuesday, a group e-mail response noted that he has been getting an overwhelming response from the public.
"…[F]irst to those that have been sending emails of support we want to say thank you so much(,) we are so thankful you took the time to let us know, now for those who are sending emails of their thoughts, we also appreciate your response and thank you for emailing us (,) you have a right to tell us how you feel and we thank you for doing so," said the note. He also encouraged his customers to be patient with his business as they try to respond to their orders.
The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which covers businesses such as Klein's. But the baker told KATU that he also has a right under the First Amendment to practice his faith.
"My First Amendment rights allow me to practice my religion as I see it," he told KATU.
Portland attorney Paula Barran told KATU that the situation makes for an interesting legal test case. "Statutes don't get to overcome constitutional protections, so if somebody had a religious-based reason for wanting not to trade with somebody, I think you have a really interesting test case for whether or not a statute like this can apply," she noted.
The Oregon Attorney General's Office did not respond to a request from CP to comment on the investigation on Tuesday.
In 2011, Victoria Childress, another baker from Des Moines, Iowa, who faced similar charges from a lesbian couple, said they eventually dropped their action against her. Noting that she operates a home-based business, Childress said: "I was told by my lawyer that it (dropping charges) was probably because I operate from my home. They don't go after the little people."
When asked if she had any advice for Klein, she said: "I would just tell him that God is with him and he is going to bless his business."