An Oregon baker who reportedly refused to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple is under investigation by the Oregon Attorney General's civil enforcement office for discrimination.
A complaint filed on Jan. 28 claims that Sweet Cakes owner Aaron Klein wouldn't serve the couple after he found out the cake was for a same-sex wedding.
The unnamed bride-to-be said she previously worked with the Gresham-based cake shop, which is east of Portland. She said she used Klein's services for her mother's wedding. However, when her partner went to pick up the cake on Jan. 17, the owner refused to make the transaction.
The reason? Klein allegedly told the bride that she and her partner "were abominations unto the Lord."
Klein denied making that statement to local Oregon station KATU
Under Oregon law, he may face criminal penalties. That kind of exclusionary treatment is outlawed under Oregon's Equality Act of 2007. Statute 659A.400 says that any business that offers "public accommodations" must provide "full and equal accommodations" regardless of "race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation," and other factors.
Despite denying the statement, Klein defended his stance.
"I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn't mean to make anybody upset, it's just something I believe in very strongly," Klein said.
Klein displays crosses in his shop as a symbol of his religious devotion.
“If I have to be to, I guess, be penalized for my beliefs, then I guess, well, that’ll be what it is,” he told the news station. “My First Amendment rights allow me to practice my religion as I see it.”
As the case moves forward, the question that remains is whether Klein's federal First Amendment rights override the state's ordinance.
One Oregon attorney told KATU she is unsure what the outcome will be.
“Statutes don’t get to overcome constitutional protections," Paula Barran said. "So if somebody had a religious-based reason for wanting not to trade with somebody, I think you have a really interesting test case for whether or not a statute like this can apply.”
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