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US Christian bakers who were fined $135K for refusing to serve same-sex couple win right to appeal the fine

by Kelly Valencia
Aaron and Melissa Klein.png - Banner image
First Liberty Institute

Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein, who were ordered to pay $135,000 (£100,000) in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to serve them, have won the right to appeal the fine. 

The co-owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in the US state of Oregon, declined to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer’s wedding in 2013, citing religious reasons. 

The Bowman-Cryer’s then launched a legal lawsuit against the bakery and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) awarded them $135,000 in damages, as it ruled they had been illegally discriminated against.

The case gained media attention which led to demonstrations outside the store as well as online abuse towards the Kleins. Local wedding planners, photographers and florists also cut all ties to the bakery.

In 2016, the shop went into bankruptcy as a result of the backlash faced. 

The Kleins paid the fined but the money is being held by the government until the appeal process is completed. 

On Wednesday, the Oregon Court of Appeals whilst confirming the couple had violated the law said BOLI had broken the First Amendment’s requirements of “'strict neutrality toward religion” when determining the quantity of the fine. 

The court has ordered BOLI to review the penalty. 

Reacting to the news, Stephanie Taub senior counsel for First Liberty, the legal firm representing the couple, said: “The Court admits the state agency that acted as both prosecutor and judge in this case was biased against the Kleins' faith. 

“Yet, despite this anti-Christian bias that infected the whole case, the court is sending the case back to the very same agency for a do-over. 

“Today's opinion should have been the end of this ten year long saga. It's time for the state of Oregon's hostility toward Aaron and Melissa to end.” 

The Kleins have vowed to continue to appeal against the ruling. 

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