A three-judge panel at Oregon's Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a $135,000 fine slapped on two Christian bakers who refused to create a "wedding" cake for same-sex partners.
Located in Gresham, Oregon, the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery was forced to close after owners Aaron and Melissa Klein refused in January 2013 to bake a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
Upon investigation, Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries decided the Kleins had violated a 2007 state law protecting the rights of LGBTQAI people. In 2015, the Kleins were ordered to pay $135,00 in "emotional distress damages."
The Kleins appealed the ruling in March 2017, pointing out that the Bureau of Labor law violates their rights as artists, as well as their rights as defendants to a fair process and their rights to religious freedom and freedom of speech.
Representing the Kleins, First Liberty Institute CEO and President Kelly Shackelford said, "Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided that Aaron and Melissa Klein are not entitled to the Constitution’s promises of religious liberty and free speech."
"In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We are disappointed that the court ruled against the Kleins."
Meanwhile, the court said, "Although we accept that the Kleins imbue each wedding cake with their own aesthetic choices, they have made no showing that other people will necessarily experience any wedding cake that the Kleins create predominantly as ‘expression’ rather than as food."
Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court delayed a vote on baker Jack Phillips' case, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, opened in 2012 when Phillips refused to prepare a wedding cake for two gay men, Charlie Craig and David Mullins.
In that case, Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, who ruled Phillips was in violation of the state's anti-discrimination law.
In September 2017, the US Department of Justice filed a brief on Phillips; behalf, arguing that Craig and Mullins' request forced Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his religious beliefs and invades his First Amendment rights.
Phillips' case is expected to be decided before June.