OR court rules Christian bakery must pay $135G to lesbian couple

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Today's ruling sends a strong signal that or remains open to all.

Though the couple repeatedly served customers of any sexual orientation, they did not feel comfortable custom-designing the wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony.

The Oregon Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a ruling - and a $135,000 fine - that two Gresham bakery owners discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to make them a wedding cake, violating Oregon law.

The appeals court ruled that the OR law barring discrimination was clear, and the Kleins violated it by refusing service based on the couple's sexual orientation.

The Kleins argued that they shouldn't be forced to make a cake in celebration of a gay wedding because it offends their religious beliefs, but the court ruled that that defense is a slippery slope that would allow more types of discrimination.

One of the brides, Rachel Bowman-Cryer along with her mother visited Sweet Cakes for a tasting and to order the cake in 2013. The Kleins (husband and wife owners of the since-closed Sweetcakes by Melissa) argue, among other things, that enforcement of the nondiscrimination law against them violates their religious freedom rights under the First Amendment.

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Under Oregon law, businesses can not refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they can not turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion.

Shackelford added, "In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of goodwill should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs".

The case could next go to the Oregon Supreme Court, KGW reported.

Oregon's anti-discrimination law states that "all persons within the jurisdiction of this state are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation, without any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or age".

The Oregonian reports, "in their ruling Thursday, a panel of state appeals court judges sided with [state labor commissioner Brad] Avakian, saying the Kleins did, in fact, deny the Bowman-Cryers because they were lesbians. OR will not allow a 'Straight Couples Only" sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores'. The justices also rejected the Kleins' argument that Avakian's ruling violated state and federal free speech protections. Kenneth A. Klukowski at First Liberty Institute in Texas also represented the Kleins.