Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian owners of a bakery in Oregon, continue to stand firm in their position that their First Amendment rights were violated when they were fined $135,000 for declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2013.
The bakery owners paid the fine last year in December and also appealed in the Oregon Court of Appeals in April claiming that the government had violated their religious freedom by imposing hefty fines for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
The state lawyers filed a brief justifying the charges against the Kleins, to which the bakery couple replied this month. State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Solicitor General Benjamin Gutman said that the fines were for discriminatory conduct and not to deny the couple's religious beliefs, and that the colossal amount of fine was appropriate because the bakery's refusal to serve the couple had caused the Cryers deep emotional distress.
"Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn't mean that folks have the right to discriminate." Avakian was quoted as saying by The Oregonian in 2013. He then added that the government did not want to close down businesses but wanted to rehabilitate them.
"For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon," he had said.
The Kleins' brief says that Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian levied the fines on them without due process, and violated their religious freedom right. They maintain that the government cannot compel artists to devote their art to causes which violate their conscience.
The couple had served the women before, but they could not participate in the event which they said violated their deeply-held religious convictions.
"It wasn't them as a couple. We served them in the past. It had to do with their event. We just couldn't partake in that particular event," Melissa told The Daily Signal last year.
The Kleins said they believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman, and that they had also baked cakes for couples with same-sex attractions, but baking a cake for their wedding would be akin to participating in the event.
"This case is, first and foremost, about whether Oregon has commandeered individuals' liberty to compel them -- upon pain of crippling financial penalties -- to facilitate the multitude of events in which 'persons' protected by (discrimination law) might participate," the brief states. "Such events might be weddings, as here, or religious rituals, sex-segregated club initiations, or abortions."
"So the court must determine: Has Oregon, for example, compelled Catholics to sculpt totems for Wiccan rituals? Feminists to photograph fraternity initiations? Pro-life filmmakers to video abortions?" the brief asks. "It has not, and that ends the case."
The fine imposed on the Kleins, which also included a high interest per day for delay in payment, amounts to $136,927.07, is as yet in an escrow account and will be released to either of the parties after the case is concluded.