I held off writing on this topic for a few days because I wanted to see how far it went. Not too far, mainly just being reported by the ultra-conservative and the LGBT press. WND didn’t bother to do an article on it, instead linking to a KGW article that they titled, “Bakery that Denied Lesbian Wedding Cake Closes.” Bit of bad grammar there — I’m not sure how a wedding cake can be lesbian, gay, bi, trans, or str8.
That aside, the facts in the case aren’t really disputed. Just the motivations and interpretation.
The bakery in question is “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” sit’iated in Gresham, Oregon, and co-owned by wife and husband Melissa and Aaron Klein. Oregon is a state that has an extensive non-discrimination clause in its public accommodations statute. In particular, this means that if you offer services to the public, you cannot discriminate based on the usual stuff: gender, religion, race, nationality, and … well, sexual orientation (among many other things). Bad news if you don’t like The Gays.
Enter a lesbian couple who asked Melissa to bake them a cake for their wedding. The bakery declined. The couple filed a complaint with the state, and the bakery is under investigation. What made the latest news is that as of August 31 (2013), it had apparently closed.
Previously, Melissa argued that turning away the lesbians was “definitely not discrimination at all. We don’t have anything against lesbians or homosexuals. It has to do with our morals and beliefs. It’s so frustrating because we went through all of this in January, when it all came out.”
Her husband added, “They dropped the ball by not putting in any exemption for religious beliefs” in the public accommodation and non-discrimination statute.
A sign was posted in the window of the bakery on August 31: “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore. This is ridiculous that we can not practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart. ♥”
Before I get into the comments, it bears pointing out that no one told them nor forced them to close. They were not being fined. They were not being censured. So far, all that was happening was the Oregon state Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) was investigating them.
KOIN has accumulated 260 comments as of this writing. The top comment is by “Glogrri,” who with 68 up-votes and 4 down wrote:
Sorry. When you open a business to the general public, you are not free to refuse to sell to people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin:
“The Federal Civil Rights Act guarantees all people the right to “full
and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges,
advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation,
without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color,
religion, or national origin.”
“The Professor” added: “Who is saying they cannot practice their faith? Did the government or the couple nail the doors of their church shut? Stop them from praying? Stop them from shouting fa**got if they wanted to? Quoting scripture? NOPE. They merely said you cannot discriminate against anyone if your business is open to the public. Period. No religious freedom was violated here. But apparently the free market is working. They are closing. See ya.”
“E. Mead” tried to act oppressed and got 0 up-votes and 10 down-votes for their opinion:
Freedom of religion is under full scale assault in America. Leftists will continue to target Christians and bring cases like this. They will not be satisfied until they force Christians to violate their beliefs, or put them out of business. If we allow the Left to win this fight, then the First Amendment will be meaningless, and America will no longer be a free nation.
Make no mistake, this is a fight for the very meaning of our country. It’s not about gay, it’s about freedom. ObamaCare’s employer provided birth control and abortion pill mandate is another example of the State forcing people to violate their religious beliefs (or close their business). This no small matter. If we don’t fight this America is lost. And remember, the hate is not coming from Christians, rather the opposite, it is directed at us.
Over at JMG, the comments are what you would expect from a blog that caters to the homosexual community. To quote the top-rated comment, by “NMNative,” with 55 up-votes and 0 down: “No one forced these folks to close. They choose to close rather than serving the GLBT community. Good for them. If they hate gays so much, they should never have opened a “public” place to begin with. Maybe they can open up in the basement of their church and serve the congregation their hate muffins.”
Over at the HuffPo, there are a whopping 4233 comments as of this writing. I’m just going to quote a few of the top-rated ones:
- “They dropped the ball by not putting in any exemption for religious beliefs.” A bakery is not a church.
- “We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore. This is ridiculous that we can not practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart.” If the practice of your faith hinges on the degradation and humiliation of God’s creations, might I suggest you’ve missed the mark entirely?
- When the government bars your church doors, then you can say you no longer have freedom of religion. Until that happens, businesses must follow the laws and regulations as described in state law. Allowing discrimination is not freedom of religion, it’s bigotry.
- This has nothing to do with religious discrimination. The bakery is in violation of public accommodation laws – the same laws that prevent them from discriminating against black Americans. The constant self-victimization of religious zealots has become quite tedious.
- The baker refused to do a cake for a same-sex wedding but had no problem agreeing to do cakes for an unwed mother, a divorce party and pagan solstice celebration. This isn’t a “deeply held religious belief,” it’s hypocritical bigotry. People like these two give true followed of Christ a bad name.
And then we get to World Net Daily. 322 comments as of now. The top-voted comment is by “Scott Nelson” with 27 up and 0 down: “anybody who demands the freedom to love who they want, marry who they want, then turns around and either by force or by legislation tries to put you out of business or ruin your livelihood because of your religious freedom (as in the ChikFilA protests) is a hypocrite” I’d note that “Scott” clearly did not read the story, as most others have, because no one is forcing these two out of business.
“3rdryder” added (15 up, 0 down):
It is more than just religious freedom under attack here. The business
that close, privately owned businesses, are being abused by laws that violate
there right to choose. The right to determine which customers they serve
as private businesses, and which ones they may refuse service to, based on
their own rights as private businesses to function as THEY choose. If a
business chooses not to serve certain people they should have that right.
If they make a mistake in not serving customers, the customers can choose
not to do business with them.
When it comes to government, government cannot choose, whom it will
serve and, whom it will choose not to serve, because the government belongs
to all the people. Private businesses belong to the people who run them, and should be able to choose the customers they serve.
The laws that force private businesses to serve customers, is illegal, and
To end probably my longest post here to-date, I’ll quote “GTHSBB Momma” who has 17 up and 0 down-votes on her comment: “The comments from the KGW news site were as scary as the actions taken against the bakery itself. These morons seem to think that freedom of religion ends at your private thoughts and cannot impact your actions. They think free markets are free to follow whatever regulatory and statutory burdens are placed on them and you’re “free” to close up shop if you decline to go along with their demands to violate your own ethics. The government schools have done a fine job of dumbing down and misinforming generations of Americans.”
In the end, it’s nice to have a few normal websites and see how most Americans think, in contrast with the craziness at World Net Daily. Every now-and-then, even I need a bit of a sanity check.
Edited (September 4, 2013): JMG has a follow-up where the Kleins gave a defensive interview to a Christian TV station.