Faith-based arguments against gay rights can be tenuous, and while we don’t want to step on anyone’s right to practice religion, there are certainly no bible verses which warn against baking cakes for gay couples.
Yet Melissa Klein argues that her refusal to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding is based on her religion. She claims that serving the couple would not be doing God’s work, and that “It’s definitely not discrimination at all. We don’t have anything against lesbians or homosexuals.”
Sweet Cakes by Melissa refused to serve the couple last January at which time complaints of discrimination were filed and investigated. While there are no federal laws in the U.S. protecting the LGBT community from discrimination, there are several state laws which aim to do so including the Oregon Equality Act, passed in 2007. Lawmakers found that there was substantial evidence that Klein had acted illegally by refusing to bake the cake for the lesbian patrons and she is facing fines of up to $150,000.
“Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate,” says former senator Brad Avakian, who supported the Oregon Equality Act when he was in office.
To make things even more interesting, an undercover reporter allegedly staged their own private investigation by prank calling the bakery several times with requests for cakes celebrating various liberal issues which might be equally distasteful to a conservative Christan baker willing to discriminate against gays, however the requests were not disputed.
“I was wondering if you could do two little cakes,” the reporter is said to have told an employee at the bakery, “my friend is a researcher at OHSU and she just got a grant for cloning human stem cells, so I thought I’d get her two identical cakes—basically, two little clone cakes. How much would they cost?” To which the employee is said to have replied “It will be $25.99 each.” The reporter allegedly also convinced them to agree to bake for a divorce party, a party for a woman whose children were born out of wedlock, and a pagan solstice party.
In light of the backlash from their discrimination and the hefty fines they faced, Klein decided to shut down her bakery rather than end the discrimination. Speaking about the loss of her business (which still operates at a smaller scale from her home) Klein broke down in tears last week, but still seemed unapologetic for her decision to discriminate.