Sweet Cakes, a Gresham, Oregon bakery has been forced to shut their doors as owners Aaron and Melissa Klein are ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for “mentally raping” a lesbian couple. Yes, mentally raping was listed in the 88 symptoms the couple stated they felt in emotional distress after being refused service by the owners.
The controversy began back in 2013 when owner Aaron Klein felt well within his rights to refuse service to Rachel Bowman-Cryer after she and her mother set up a cake tasting. In August 2013, the women complained to BOLI, and the agency conducted an investigation. In January 2014 they brought charges that the Klein’s had unlawfully discriminated against the couple because of their sexual orientation.
BOLI said in a statement released Friday that: “The facts of this case clearly demonstrate that the Klein’s unlawfully discriminated against the complainants. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion. Our agency is committed to fair and thorough enforcement of Oregon civil rights laws, including the Equality Act of 2007.”
Lawyers for the couple from Bowman-Cryers said his clients would have no comments on the damages awarded stating; “This is a proposed order and we view this matter as continuing to be active litigation,”
One of the three attorneys representing the Klein’s, Anna Harmon stated; “It’s a shocking result and it shows the state’s relentless campaign to punish Oregonians who live and work according to their faith.”
“The important thing to realize is this,” she added, “This is real money that Aaron and Melissa are going to have to pay that otherwise would be used to pay their mortgage and feed their kids.”
“The proposed order is 110 pages long,” Harmon said. “We just got it this morning and haven’t had a chance of analyzing it thoroughly,” she said. “To the extent it calls for $135,000 in damages, you can be sure we’ll object to that.”
The LGBT advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon issued a statement praising BOLI’s actions.
“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, Basic Rights Oregon’s co-director.
“The business owners in the case believed they had the right to deny services because of their religious beliefs,” said Nancy Haque, also a co-director. “Religious freedom is a fundamental part of America, and is written into our state’s constitution already. But those beliefs don’t entitle any of us to discriminate against others. Religious liberty should not be used to discriminate against people.”