Bakery faces discrimination investigation over gay wedding cake - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Bakery owner: 'Not anything against homosexuals, it has to do with our lives'


A wedding cake, or lack of one, for a same-sex couple is at the center of a state discrimination investigation.

The Portland-area couple filed an anti-discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries against Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham.

The complaint, filed by Rachel Cryer and received by the bureau Aug. 8, contends she was refused service based on sexual orientation.

The bakery's decision made national headlines in January when an initial complaint was filed with the Oregon Department of Justice by Laurel Bowman against the business.

The initial complaint alleged one of the owners of Sweet Cakes, after learning the customers wanted a cake for a same-sex wedding, said they were "abominations unto the Lord" and Bowman's fiancee was "reduced to tears."

In February, Aaron Klein denied making those statements. However, he did admit turning down the couple's business for religious reasons.

"I stopped what I was doing, I looked at them and said, 'I'm sorry I may have wasted your time, we don't do same-sex marriages,'" he told FOX 12 in February.

The new Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint states that Klein asked for the names of the bride and groom and was told, "There are two brides and our names are Rachel and Laurel."

"Respondent then told me that they do not provide their services for same-sex weddings" citing religious beliefs, according to the complaint.

While Oregon law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, Klein believes the U.S. Constitution protects him. He said business picked up after the story went viral, but also stressed his decision wasn't about publicity.

"I'm free to exercise my religion however I see fit. I should not be compelled to violate my conscience," he said earlier this year. "If I'm told I have to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, I feel that I'm violating my beliefs. I don't think I should have to do that."

The Bureau of Labor and Industries will now decide if the bakery violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007.

A BOLI release states, "Oregonians cannot be denied service based on sexual orientation. 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, veteran status, disability or religion."

When reached on Wednesday, Melissa Klein said she stands by her family's religious beliefs.

"The one thing I would like to try to get across or maybe for people to understand is that it's not anything against homosexuals, it has to do with our lives and our lifestyle and our walk with Christ," said Melissa Klein. "I feel, just like they should be able to live their life the way they want to, I should also be able to live the way I want to."

BOLI investigations are required to conclude within a year. If investigators find substantial evidence, the bureau may bring formal charges against Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Those involved could also reach a settlement through conciliation, according to the bureau.

Melissa Klein said she is in contact with a lawyer, but does not know how the investigation will play out.

"Honestly, the way that I think and feel is that it's not in my hands, it's in God's hands," she said. "It's not in my control, so whatever is going to be is going to be."

"We are committed to a fair, through investigation," said Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

The couple filing the complaint ended up getting a wedding cake from another local bakery, Pastrygirl. Food Network star Duff Goldman also offered to bake and transport a cake to Portland for them, which the couple accepted in February, according to a statement released by their attorney at the time.

That attorney declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

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