An Oregon bakery was determined to have violated state anti-discrimination laws for refusing to make a gay couple’s wedding cake and will soon face a court hearing to find out the extent of its punishment, which includes a possible fine of up to $75,000.
The owners of the Portland-area bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa say they declined to bake the wedding cake in 2013 because it would have violated their religious beliefs, which reject same-sex marriage.
But state officials ruled they can’t do that because the shop isn’t registered as a religious institution, Reuters reported.
“The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools but does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability or religion,” Bureau of Labor and Industries spokesman Charlie Burr said in a statement. “The bakery is not a religious institution under the law.”
The bakery owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, said they couldn’t in good Christian conscience bake for the two gay women.
“The Bible forbids us from proclaiming messages or participating in activities contrary to biblical principles, including celebrations or ceremonies for uniting same-sex couples,” they said, according to an affidavit filed with the Oregon labor board, Reuters reported.
The case is heading to a hearing on March 10 to determine the amount of damages.
An attorney for the bakery said the Kleins might appeal after the damages are determined. In the meantime, he called the state ruling “a wrong and dangerous result for religious liberty and the rights of conscience in Oregon,” the news outlet said.
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