Wedding Cake Discrimination Case Rejected by U.S. Supreme Court, But an Oregon Court Will Reconsider Its Ruling

The fine imposed on Sweet Cakes by Melissa will be considered again by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which has previously upheld the Bureau of Labor and Industries' decision to punish the bakery for violating anti-discrimination laws.

Aaron and Melissa Klein in 2015. (Ron Walters)

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear a case challenging a fine imposed on a Gresham bakery that refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple. But the nation's highest court urged the Oregon Court of Appeals to reconsider its ruling.

In 2013, two women, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, asked for a wedding cake from Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery owned by Aaron and Melissa Klein. The bakery refused to make a cake for the same-sex couple, citing religious opposition to their marriage.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries determined that the company had violated state anti-discrimination laws, which protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation. The state agency imposed a $135,000 fine against the Kleins' business.

The Kleins appealed. The appellate court upheld the fine, and the Oregon Supreme Court did not review the decision.

The couple's fight has pitted anti-discrimination laws against religious liberty.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear another appeal from the Kleins, but vacated the Oregon Court of Appeals decision and told the state court to reconsider the case in light of a 2018 ruling in a similar case in Colorado.

The narrow decision in that case centered on whether a Colorado state agency had treated a bakery in that state with religious neutrality. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado officials had demonstrated hostility toward the religious beliefs of the bakery's owners—by comparing their Christianity to defending slavery or the Holocaust.

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