Well, it's officially official.
According to the final ruling by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, Gresham bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa broke state law when it refused to serve a cake to a lesbian couple in February 2013, and owners Aaron and Melissa Klein must pay $135,000 to the victims of their discrimination.
In a strongly worded final order, BOLI writes:
This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage. It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal. Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society. The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.
The final order can be read, in part, as a response to a bewildering editorial by the conservative-leaning Oregonian in which it decried the BOLI decision while it was still under review, dubbing BOLI as "cake crusaders" and writing that the Kleins' unlawful discrimination against the gay couple was "not a grand act of lawlessness that merits a virtual death sentence." (Sample comment: "So small businesses should have their lawbreaking made affordable?")
From the BOLI order:
The BOLI Final Order awards $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination. The amounts are damages related to the harm suffered by the Complainants, not fines or civil penalties which are punitive in nature. The Final Order notes that the non-economic damages are consistent with the agencyâs previous orders, such as an earlier ruling against a Bend dentist In the Matter of Andrew W. Engle. In that case, BOLI awarded a Christian employee $325,000 in damages for physical, mental and emotion suffering due to religious discrimination and harassment.
The Oregonian did not issue a similar editorial in the Engel case—in fact, a recent article dinged Engel for not paying up sooner in a piece that also made note of a great number of other six-figure BOLI rulings as a result of discrimination or harassment.
After the historic Supreme Court ruling June 26 granting same-sex couples the right to wed across the entire United States, the Kleins wrote on their Facebook page:
Today’s decision from the supreme court is scary, not because it redefined marriage for the country (not surprising), but because a federal court has taken the rights of the state’s and the voters within those states away. However it is evident with our case that this ruling was not necessary to force the acceptance of something that violates our religious beliefs, as marriage was defined in the state of Oregon as one man one women when our case began. The erosion of freedom in this country is escalating, but we serve a mighty God and our hope is in Him. For in Jesus Christ is the power to save. We will continue to stand on God’s truth.
Apparently by "erosion of freedom", they somehow mean that a large portion of the country is now free to marry. Huh.
Anyway, the bakery is closed, and Aaron Klein now works as a garbage man, according to a propaganda video issued on the Kleins' behalf by a conservative blog, on which Melissa Klein cries a lot. It's worth a view just for that.
The full text of the BOLI ruling is here. Through their lawyer, the Bowman-Cryers released a statement about the ruling, which we quote here in part:
We would like to thank BOLI for once again sending a clear message that discrimination will simply not be tolerated in our state. This has been a horrible ordeal for our entire family. We never imagined finding ourselves caught up in a fight for social justice. We knew it was on us to set an example for our two kids’ to stand up for what is right. We endured daily, hateful attacks on social media, received death threats and feared for our family’s safety, yet our goal remained steadfast. We were determined to ensure that this kind of blatant discrimination never happened to another couple, another family, another Oregonian.