Cakes have taken center-stage in the same-sex marriage debates as one of the most high-profile examples of state-enforced religious intolerance involves a simple bakery who politely declined to bake a cake for a same-sex ceremony.
Sweet Cakes by Melissa had declined to make a cake for a lesbian couple who wished to order one for their ceremony and since then, the discussion concerning the battle over tolerance has centered on what the government can and cannot force a business to do.
In short: government can demand that a business owner violate his or her religious beliefs… or otherwise, face the wrath of the government.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian has mandated that Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, pay a whopping $135,000 to the “emotionally traumatized” lesbian couple who claim emotional distress occurred as a result of having had their wedding cake order declined.
Worse yet, the ruling issued from atop the mighty government includes a gag order that prohibits the Kleins from telling their side of the story. They have been ordered to “cease and desist” from speaking about the controversy and from explaining publicly that they refuse to violate their religious beliefs.
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
The Kleins still took to their Facebook page to explain, “This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights. According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
The gag order is a result of the Kleins having previously spoken-up about the injustice. In an interview with the Family research Council’s Tony Perkins, Aaron said, “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”
This, reportedly, offered the ammo needed to silence the couple as Avakian has construed the statement to mean that the Kleins have announced their intention to continue their practice of declining orders that would require them to violate their religious beliefs- an action Avakian labels as “discrimination.”
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Avakian wrote.
The Kleins’ lawyer was shocked by the tyrannous ruling, saying,
“Brad Avakian has been outspoken throughout this case about his intent to ‘rehabilitate’ those whose beliefs do not conform to the state’s ideas. Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful. This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”
So, to recap: after Oregon passed a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, judicial activists undid the will of the people. A lesbian couple arrived at a business and wished to place an order for a cake, an order which was politely declined. Instead of merely going to another bakery, the lesbian couple waged a holy war within the bowels of government to force the Kleins to yield to the crushing weight of the government and disregard their religious principles. Having refused to do so, the government responded by fining them $135,000 and further illustrating their “tolerance” for differing perspectives by restricting the couple from speaking publicly on the issue.
How can this possibly still be America?