Oregon High Court Rejects Appeal From Christian Couple Fined $135,000 for Not Making Gay Wedding Cake

Aaron Klein talked before those gathered at the Omni Shoreham Hotel about the fallout from he and his wife's refusal to make a same-sex wedding cake. | (Photo: Family Research Council/Carrie Russell)

A decision inflicting a $135,000 penalty against an Oregon Christian couple who refused to make a gay wedding cake will be allowed to stand. The couple's lawyer will now seek a hearing from the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Oregon Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from Aaron and Melissa Klein, a Christian baker couple who in 2015 were fined $135,000 and eventually driven out of business for refusing on religious grounds to make a same-sex wedding cake. The denial for appeal came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who also declined to make a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding. 

Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO for First Liberty Institute, which represents the Kleins, said in a statement released Wednesday that they will not stop with the rejected appeal.

"No one in America should be forced by the government to choose between their faith and their livelihood. But that's exactly what happened to our clients, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court of the United States," stated Shackelford.

In 2013, the Kleins refused to make a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer. In response, the same-sex couple filed a complaint against the Kleins' business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

In 2015, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled against the Kleins, concluding that they must pay a fine of $135,000.

The Oregon Court of Appeals also ruled against the Kleins, with Judge Chris Garrett writing an opinion in which he compared Aaron and Melissa Klein's religious objections to gay marriage to people opposed to interracial marriage.

"The Kleins seek an exemption based on their sincere religious opposition to same-sex marriage; but those with sincere religious objections to marriage between people of different races, ethnicities, or faiths could just as readily demand the same exemption," argued Garrett.

"The Kleins do not offer a principled basis for limiting their requested exemption in the manner that they propose, except to argue that there are 'decent and honorable' reasons, grounded in religious faith, for opposing same-sex marriage."

As a result of the appeals court decision, the Kleins were compelled to close down Sweet Cakes. In March, the couple filed an appeal with the state supreme court.

The Oregon Supreme Court's refusal to hear the Klein's appeal comes weeks after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a same-sex wedding cake.

In Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the high court ruled 7-2 that Colorado was wrong to punish Christian baker Jack Phillips for refusing to make a gay wedding cake because the state demonstrated a clear bias against Phillips' Christian faith.

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