Monday, February 02, 2015

Anti-gay bakery & 'religious liberty' argument loses again

No matter how much they cried, moaned, and played the victim in front of a national audience, the owners of an Oregon bakery learned that the law is the law for everyone.

According to the Willamette Week newspaper:

The gears of justice grind slowly. But administrative law judge Alan McCullough made an interim determination that Gresham bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa discriminated unlawfully when they refused to serve a lesbian couple in May 2013.

Sweet Cakes owner Aaron Klein denied a wedding cake to the couple in May of 2013, after learning that the cake would be eaten at a same-sex wedding. The couple filed a complaint, and in January 2014, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found "substantial evidence" that Sweet Cakes wasn't within their rights to deny service. 

A hearing on March 10 will determine whether the bakery owes the couple damages. Sweet Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein filed for a summary dismissal of the complaint, citing religious freedoms. They also attempted to retrieve $200,000 in damages and legal fees from the couple. 

The Kleins have been the cause celebres of "religious freedom," or the right to refuse businesses to anyone on the grounds of "personal religious beliefs."

"Religious freedom" has been the calling card of retaliation for anti-gay groups in the wake losing several marriage equality cases in federal court. They claim that marriage equality would force businesses to serve same-sex couples in contradiction to the business owners' religious objections to marriage equality. The irony is that at the time of the incident, Oregon didn't allow gay couples to be legally married.

During a "Values Voters Summit" last year, Melissa Klein openly wept while claiming, without corroborating evidence, that the bakery was shut down and harassed.

Since then, several state legislatures have been pushing hard for "religious liberty" laws to be passed, including in Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina.

While I am almost supportive for the Kleins, I am more supportive for the same-sex couples who would be negatively affected if any "religious freedom" bill or action became remotely close to law.

When you own a business, you do own a bit of power over people's lives. Who is to say in the future, if these bills became law, a group of businesses wouldn't unite to keep same-sex couples out of their area by denying food service, places to live via rental properties, or what have you?

And where would the anti-gay groups who championed these "religious liberty" laws be when all of this would be taking place?

Who do you think would be advising these businesses behind the scenes?

1 comment :

kissmagrits said...

Well, let's see now - First it was not sharing the sidewalks, crappy,
segregated schools, then the lunch counters, drinking fountains, separate entrances and waiting rooms, city buses, poll taxes and reading tests. Sound familiar? Lavender is the new black.

And an ultimate irony: Las Vegas show headliners in the fifties not allowed rooms in the hotel they were headlining. But, now the restrictive mantle has been passed on to gay men and women in the land of the free because of "strongly held beliefs".

What the hell is it with these nasty people? Every generation produces too many, at least until Gen X and the Millenials weigh in on the question. There is hope.