One of the most common examples given of LGBT rights infringing upon religious freedom is that of the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, because of their refusal to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding. They were fined $135,000, and the most recent far right coverage usually adds on a claim of a gag order:
In the ruling, Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
… although the cease and desist order refers to continued statements being made by the Kleins that they still intend to deny service, and does not actually apply to speaking about the case or their religious beliefs:
These statements, Avakian held, clearly telegraph Klein’s intention to continue to refuse service to gay couples. That presents a new legal wrinkle, since under Oregon law, businesses may not “publish, circulate, issue or display” any “communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind” that suggests they will turn someone away because of their identity. It’s this law that prevents a hotel from declaring on its website “no interracial couples.” An individual hotelier, of course, retains his private First Amendment right to preach about God’s intent to separate the races—as the trial judge in Loving v. Virginia did. But when he’s speaking publicly in his official capacity as a hotelier, he may not declare that his business will refuse service to the public based on their identity.
I mentioned earlier how the Kleins’ decision to close rather than sell to LGBT people was being portrayed as the bakers being forced out of business.
Now, more information is being reported as to what the Kleins were actually fined for:
The ruling shows the Kleins “brought the case to the media’s attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding” the couple who filed the complaint.
… Not only that, as the blog explains, the bakery owners shared the couple’s personal contact information – which led to death threats that nearly caused them to lose custody of their foster children.
However, because the Kleins were speaking out vocally while the case was still in the courts (something that is usually not done exactly because it can potentially prejudice the case and further hostilities), we have only heard one side of the story up to now. The case concluded earlier this month, and the plaintiffs have finally told their side of the story:
Aaron Klein had posted a copy of Laurel’s complaint on his Facebook page. The complaint included Rachel and Laurel’s home address and phone number. Rachel and Laurel received hundreds of angry and threatening messages in response to Klein’s post, including death threats. Klein later testified he was unaware that the women’s personal information was on the complaint when he posted it. The BOLI decision found his denial was not credible.
… Rachel: And to know that there’s this other element that somebody actually wanted to kill us. They didn’t know where to find us, but when he put our information out there, suddenly this person knew how to find us.
Laurel: We had the FBI at our house at one point…
Sometimes, it’s about more than just cake.