A Christian couple in Oregon who own a bakery business and were fined for refusing gay customers have resorted to fundraising to start a new business elsewhere.
Two Christian bakers in Oregon who declined to bake a gay wedding cake and were punished for it are now raising funds to start a new business elsewhere. Melissa and Aaron Klein, who own Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, have fought a nearly 10-year legal battle after declining to serve lesbian customers.
After being met with death threats and intense criticism for upholding their biblical beliefs and being fined up to $135,000 for discriminating against customers based on thier gender identity, the bakery shut down. Now, the Kleins are fundraising to open a new shop where they hope to "show God's goodness to everyone."
According to the Christian Headlines, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided in January that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries violated the First Amendment by failing to act with neutrality when the Christian bakers' business was slapped with a $135,000 fine, forcing it to close. The Kleins' attorneys are looking to request a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Oregon Court of Appeals Panel Reverses Fine Order
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals in Oregon stood by their decision that said the Christian bakers unlawfully discriminated their customers by refusing to make a cake for a lesbian couple in 2013. But the panel reversed the order that required the Kleins to pay $135,000 in damages, the Christian Post reported.
Panel opinion author Circuit Judge Erin Lagesen wrote that the panel adheres to their first decision upholding the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries' (BOLI) "determinations" that the Christian bakers "unlawfully discriminated" against the LGBT customers based on their sexual orientation. Judge Lagesen added that the handling of damages by BOLI "does not reflect the neutrality toward religion required by the Free Exercise Clause." This resulted in the judges setting aside the damages portion of the order.
Christian Couple Raising Funds for New Montana Business
The Kleins are now trying to move forward with their lives, having moved to Montana from Oregon. The Christian bakers have established a fundraiser to help them open up a new business in Montana, where they moved two years ago. On the fundraising page, Melissa described a "void" that she felt when shutting her former business down because it was a "loss of love for baking and the joy that came with that."
Now, the Christian couple are starting again. Melissa wrote, "I had said I was never going to open a bakery again, but God has seemed to change my heart with this." She explained that she and her husband had been looking for a "permanent home" for their business, adding, "There is a restaurant currently for sale and not only do we believe as a family all things are possible, we believe in Jesus Christ our Savior!"
The Christian bakers are now raising $50,000 for a downpayment on the "cute cafe" and are also selling cookies to gather more funds. According to CBN News, Melissa described her hopes for the new business, describing it as "a place where friends and family can come, sit, and have a coffee, enjoy breakfast or lunch, or just even a sweet treat...a place where everyone feels welcome and is greeted with a joyful smile."
Melissa added, "I want it to be a place that is used to show God's goodness to everyone."