Sweet Cakes Bakery Owners Pay $135K In Damages For Refusing To Serve A Same-Sex Couple
On Monday, the owners of Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon forked over the $135,000 in damages they were ordered to pay a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake.
Aaron Klein, co-owner of the shuttered Sweet Cakes by Melissa, walked into the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries’ Portland office and handed over a check for $136,927.07, an amount including accrued interest, agency spokesman Charlie Burr said.
Earlier this month, the labor bureau recovered nearly $7,000 additional funds from the Kleins with the help of the state Department of Justice and a private collections agency, Burr said. The money came from a garnished bank account, he said.
Aaron and Melissa Klein had refused to pay damages of $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, claiming financial hardship despite three online fundraising accounts set up by supporters that netted them at least $515,000 as of late September. Their reversal of course was first reported by Willamette Week.
On July 2, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay damages for emotional and mental suffering, saying they had violated the women’s civil rights by discriminating on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Rachel Bowman-Cryer visited the Gresham bakery with her mother in January 2013 to order a cake for a civil commitment ceremony. Aaron Klein, working alone that day, turned her away, citing his Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage.
The women filed complaints with the state, triggering a national debate over the Kleins’ claims of religious freedom in the face of anti-discrimination laws that require Oregon businesses to serve the public equally.
Although they paid the damages, the Kleins are still appealing the order.
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