|Now married – Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer|
“Oregon bakers seek reopening of gay marriage case over potential bias” shouts the headline in the ever erudite Washington Times. According to the article:
Officials with Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) have been in close contact with Basic Rights Oregon (BRO), the state’s leading gay-rights advocacy group, according to emails released through a public-records request for the media arm of a conservative think tank.
I would hope so. The organization responsible for the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws should be in contact with minority groups. Moreover, there should be a bias towards enforcement.
The facts in this case are not in dispute. No bias can alter what happened. In 2013 Aaron Klein, owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told Rachel Cryer that the bakery would not make a cake for her upcoming commitment ceremony. Ms. Cryer filed a discrimination complaint with BOLI against the bakery owners.
- The discrimination occurred and;
- the anti-discrimination law was clearly violated.
Aaron and Melissa Klein sought a religious exemption claiming that the discrimination was acceptable if due to a sincerely held religious belief. There is no provision in Oregon law that would provide such an exemption. Even if the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act applied (it does not affect state laws) the Kleins would have to demonstrate how baking the cake created a substantial burden.
The fine ($130,000) seems high; it is under review. If the Kleins are unhappy with the outcome, they have free attorneys who will pursue the matter in the courts with some relish (your tax dollars at work). One year ago the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear a similar case, Elane Photography v. Willock. Elane photography was represented by the same lawyers (ADF).
I am quite certain that ADF will try to raise some money from feigned outrage. Yet while this noise fills the right wing echo chamber (for a few days) it is inconsequential.