Magazine article Church & State

Oregon Bakery Owners Decline to Pay Fine over Wedding Refusal

Magazine article Church & State

Oregon Bakery Owners Decline to Pay Fine over Wedding Refusal

Article excerpt

It seems two bakers in Oregon are positioning themselves to be the Religious Right's next martyrs by refusing to pay a fine for discriminating against a same-sex couple.

Melissa and Aaron Klein, the former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, are trying to convince the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that they are too poor to pay a $135,000 fine for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding and later posting that couple's information online, which eventually forced the couple to flee the state after they received hate mail. The Willamette Week reported that the Kleins refused to pay up for over three months, even though they raised more than half a million dollars for expenses via crowdfunding campaigns.

According to emails published by the Week, BOLI repeatedly offered to find a way the Kleins could satisfy the debt without paying a lump sum in cash. In early August, BOLI prosecutor Jenn Gaddis informed the couple's attorneys that they would "stay collection" of the damages, provided the Kleins furnished them with a bond or irrevocable letter of credit.

Initially, the Kleins agreed. But the email chain between Gaddis and Herbert Grey, an attorney for the couple, shows that consensus didn't last. On Sept. 8, Grey informed Gaddis that the couple did not have a bond or letter of credit and had "no further plans to obtain one."

Gaddis was not pleased. "It is unfortunate that they will not seek the bond or irrevocable letter of credit, that you had initially stated they were interested in seeking, when they have clearly raised close to $500,000 with which to pay the damage award," she wrote to Grey. He did not respond.

Gaddis' claim appears accurate. The Kleins opened a "Continue To Give" account in order to raise the funds for the fine. A description on their page asserts, "If they are forced to pay the damages to the lesbian couple they will be in much worse shape than they are now. …

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