Officials in Oregon have ruled that Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery that made national news after refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding last year, violated a lesbian couple's civil rights.
Owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, Christians who oppose same-sex unions, reacted to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries' ruling in an interview with KATU-TV, telling the outlet that they stand by their convictions.
"We still stand by what we believe from the beginning," said Aaron Klein. "I'm not sure what future holds, but as far as where we’re at right now … it’s almost as if the state is hostile toward Christian businesses."
The Bureau of Labor and Industries released a statement on the matter, noting that the lesbian couple in question, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, had filed an official complaint with the government under the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 -- a law that protects gays and lesbians using public venues.
"Under Oregon law, Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity," read the release. "The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private business owners to discriminate based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot legally deny service based on race, sex, age, disability or religion."
The next step in the ongoing case will be for the Klein family and Cryer and Bowman to try and come to a settlement. If that is not achieved, then "the bureau may bring formal charges and move the issue to BOLI’s Administrative Prosecution Unit, responsible for processing contested civil rights division cases pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and BOLI contested case hearing rules."
In September, TheBlaze reported that, following intense scrutiny and furor among gay rights advocates that inevitably impacted business, the Kleins were forced to close Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Now, they're operating out of their home.
Since the debate made headlines in early 2013, the family has reported being harassed by those opposed to their stance on the cake matter.
“They’re already planning to harass me,” Melissa told TheBlaze. “They’re just continuously doing this. They just don’t want me to be in business at all.”
Image source: Sweet Cakes by Melissa Facebook page
That harassment came in some very eerie forms, too. In September, Melissa said that someone broke into the Sweet Cakes truck, a vehicle the family uses to advance its business. The truck was parked in the Kleins’ driveway.
This was particularly nerve-wrecking for Melissa and Aaron, as their home is in a highly secluded area — one that is nowhere near where their former shop.
“Somebody came up into our driveway and rummaged through our truck and took stuff out,” she said. “The really strange thing is, they didn’t steal anything, they just made a mess. It kind of was a little creepy.”
While the family has been under fire, many continue to support Sweet Cakes by Melissa. The business' Facebook page has more than 12,000 likes and Melissa regularly updates the public about her business and the plight the family faces.
She publicly thanked those who have been praying for the family following the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruling.
Someone wrote "bigot" on the Klein's vehicle last month (Image source: Sweet Cakes by Melissa Facebook page)
"To all of you that have been praying for Aaron and I, I want to say thank you. I know that your prayers are being heard. I feel such a peace with all of this that is going on," she wrote. "Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this. It is His fight and our situation is in His hands."
Melissa asked the public to continue praying and promised to provide an update as soon as more information is available about possible fines and penalties Sweet Cakes by Melissa could face.
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