What’s the cost of refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding celebration? An Oregon commission wants to slap a very uncivil $135,000 fine on the owners of a bakery that refused to supply a cake to a gay wedding reception because of their religious beliefs. The fine would be for “emotional damages” suffered by the gay couple denied service.
Aaron and Melissa Klein, who are struggling to make ends meet after closing Sweet Cakes by Melissa in September 2013, received the 110-page proposed order Friday from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which ruled against the couple in February.
Mr. Klein said Friday the figure was “shocking” but not entirely unexpected. The commission has the authority to mete out awards for damages of up to $150,000.
“It’s very discouraging. This is not money coming from a business, this is not money coming from an insurance fund, this is money coming straight from our bank account,” Mr. Klein told the Family Research Council’s Craig James in a radio interview Friday.
“This is money that should be used to pay my mortgage, money that should be used to feed our kids, not something that should be given to others,” Mr. Klein said. “This is a decision I made because of my faith, and now the government is now saying it doesn’t matter, your kids can suffer for it as well.”
He noted that the monetary ruling is for emotional damages suffered by the same-sex couple, who filed a complaint against the Gresham bakery with the state in 2013.
“You have unsubstantiated emotional damages — that’s what this came down to,” Mr. Klein said. “There was never any physical or financial harm done to the plaintiffs. This was specifically to emotional damages. It takes a lot to explain where $135,000 comes from.”
In a press release, the bureau said that an administrative law judge had awarded $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination.”
“The amounts are damages related to the harm suffered by the Complainants, not fines or civil penalties which are punitive in nature,” said the release, adding that the proposed fines are “less than what was sought by administrative prosecutors,” who had sought the full $150,000.
“Emotional Damages”? Judging by the amount, both women must be unable to get out of bed in the morning and have developed a pathological fear of cupcakes.
Gay activists are thrilled, of course. People who don’t believe as they do must be punished severely — financially ruined and pauperized. The evil Christians are only getting what they deserve and the fine sends a strong message to others who disagree with gays to sit down, shut up, and do as they’re told, regardless of their personal religious beliefs.
Leaders of Basic Rights Oregon, a gay-rights advocacy group, applauded the proposed order, saying it sends a message that religious beliefs cannot be used to justify discrimination against same-sex couples.
“This case struck a chord with many Oregonians because allowing businesses to deny goods and services to people because of who they are and whom they love is hurtful and wrong,” said Jeana Frazzini, Basic Rights Oregon’s co-director, in a statement.
The couple who owned the closed bakery regularly served gay customers — that is, they baked birthday cakes, graduation cakes, and other treats for gays — so it’s impossible for anyone to argue they refused to bake a cake out of hate. The award for “emotional damages” is beyond punitive — it is reckless and not based on any facts that would require the impoverishment of the defendants.
Gay activists should be proud of themselves. They are celebrating the reduction of a pious couple to penury over a political disagreement. No doubt, the suggestion for re-education camps to force us all to become “tolerant” is just around the corner.