Photo Credit: Family Research Council Make them bake cake! That’s the verdict of an administrative judge in the case of Oregon bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. The couple, who became the brave face of America’s religious liberty clash, were informed yesterday by the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries that in the battle over marriage, their First Amendment rights no longer counted.
In the first of what will almost certainly be several rulings, the Kleins were found guilty of violating state law for politely declining an order for a same-sex “wedding” cake. As part of his 52-page order, Judge Alan McCullough claims that “requiring them to provide a wedding cake for Complainants does not constitute compelled speech.” Aaron Klein disagrees. “First Amendment, Constitution. Freedom of religion. I’m free to exercise my religion however I see fit. If I’m told to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, I feel that I’m violating my beliefs. I don’t think I should have to do that.”
Unfortunately for the parents of five, wedding vendors like them may soon have no choice. In the free market, the courts no longer seem to recognize the right to believe what you want. Owners of small businesses like Sweet Cakes by Melissa, Arlene’s Flowers, Simply Elegant Wedding Planning, Hands On Originals, and others are seen as nothing more than tools of the government to think and believe as the state sees fit. If they refuse, as Aaron and Melissa have done, Oregon is threatening to bring the full weight of the government to bear.
A hearing on March 10 will decide exactly how much the Kleins’ courage will cost them. As much as $200,000 could be at stake for a family who’s already been forced to close their shop and scrape together the money they need to make up for that lost income. Anna Harmon, one of the Kleins’ three attorneys, said that although the judge tossed out every claim but one, it’s still a tough loss. “Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means… The judge ruled wrongly that the Kleins’ right not to design and create a work of art celebrating an event which violates the tenets of their religion is not protected by the Oregon or Federal Constitutions. This is a dangerous result for religious liberty and rights of conscience in Oregon…” (Read more about the suit about the Oregon bakers HERE)