The Oregon Court of Appeals today upheld most of an earlier ruling that Sweetcakes by Melissa, a now-defunct Gresham bakery, illegally discriminated against a lesbian couple in 2013 when its owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to bake a them a cake to celebrate a civil union.
The court decision upheld the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries finding that the Kleins had broken Oregon law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and had appropriately awarded the two women, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, $135,000 in damages.
The case drew national attention and became a political football for civil rights advocates and conservatives advocating for the Kleins' rights to make choices based on their religious beliefs. A similar case from Colorado is now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Kleins did win one aspect of their appeal: the court ruled that they were not guilty of illegally expressing an intent to discriminate against other potential customers in the future.
Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian applauded the court's ruling in a statement.
"For the past ten years, the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 has protected Oregonians from unlawful discrimination in housing, employment and public places. Today's ruling sends a strong signal that Oregon remains open to all," Avakian said.
"Within Oregon's public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, has the freedom to fully participate in society."
The Bowman-Cryers also issued a statement.
"With this ruling, the Court of Appeals has upheld the long-standing idea that discrimination has no place in American," they said. "All Oregonians can now go into any store and expect to be treated just like any other person. It does not matter how you were born or who you love. All of us are equal under the law."