Like Washingon floral shop, Oregon bakery refuses to serve same-sex weddings

bakeryGRESHAM, Ore. (KPTV) — A wedding cake, or lack of one, for a same-sex couple is at the center of a state discrimination investigation.

The Portland-area couple filed an anti-decimation complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries against ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’ in Gresham.

The complaint, filed by Rachel Cryer and received by the bureau Aug. 8, contends she was refused service based on sexual orientation.

A similar case occurred in Washington state, where Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed suit against a Richland florist shop, Arlene’s Flowers, for refusing to provide flowers at the wedding of a gay couple. Robert Ingersoll, who’d been a customer for nine years, was turned down because of the owner’s religious beliefs, which the state says violates the Consumer Protection Act.refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. That case has not been scheduled for trial yet.

The Oregon bakery’s decision also made national headlines when an initial complaint was filed with the Oregon Department of Justice by Laurel Bowman against the business in January.

The initial complaint alleged one of the owners of Sweet Cakes, after learning the customers wanted a cake for a same-sex wedding, said they were “abominations unto the lord” and Bowman’s fiancé was “reduced to tears.”

In February, owner Aaron Klein denied making those statements. However, he did admit turning down the couple’s business for religious reasons.

“I stopped what I was doing, I looked at them and said, ‘I’m sorry I may have wasted your time, we don’t do same-sex marriages,’” he told Fox 12 in February.

The new Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint states that Klein asked for the names of the bride and groom and was told, “there are two brides and our names are Rachel and Laurel.”

“Respondent then told me that they do not provide their services for same-sex weddings,” citing religious beliefs, according to the complaint.

While Oregon law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, Klein believes the U.S. Constitution protects him. He said business picked up after the story went viral, but also stressed his decision wasn’t about publicity.

“I’m free to exercise my religion however I see fit. I should not be compelled to violate my conscience,” he said earlier this year. “If I’m told I have to make a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage, I feel that I’m violating my beliefs. I don’t think I should have to do that.”

The Bureau of Labor and Industries will now decide if the bakery violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007.

Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa declined to comment Wednesday on the complaint or the investigation.

Stutzman and her longtime business are being sued by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson for refusing to provide flowers at the wedding of a gay couple. Robert Ingersoll, who’d been a customer for nine years, was turned down by Stutzman because of her religious beliefs, which the state says violates the Consumer Protection Act.

BOLI investigations are required to conclude within a year. If investigators find substantial evidence, the bureau may bring formal charges against Sweet Cakes by Melissa. Those involved could also reach a settlement through conciliation, according to the bureau.

“We are committed to a fair, through investigation,” said Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian.

The couple filing the complaint ended up getting a wedding cake from another local bakery, Pastrygirl. Food Network star Duff Goldman also offered to bake and transport a cake to Portland for them, which the couple accepted in February, according to a statement released by their attorney at the time.

That attorney declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

19 comments

  • Xuven

    "We Reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" is the sing I see at most businesses … Get over it and go somewhere else…it is a headache you don't need, go to someone that wants your $$$…. Just advertise for them every chance you get. People like them can only cause pain and suffering to others if we let them. It has been my experience that people's actions agents others come back to bite them. If they refuse to much business due to their beliefs ….then eventually they won't have a business….then they can be the ones standing around saying "what happened?"… I don't think it is right not to provide service to everyone , however I do support the business owners right to refuse service to anyone they wish for any or no reason. And just think this store is getting lots of $$$$$$$ in advertising …. Because even bad press is still press and after all the dust settles the only thing people will remember is the name of the business. And in closing the more you force you will on someone the more the will resist.

  • Matt

    Im not allowed to pray in public places. It might offend someone. So keep you sexual preferences in the home cause seeing two dudes sucking each others tonsils out offends me.

    Fair is fair.

    Right now Washington and Oregon are walking a fine lune on the church and state issue . Who is the state to DICTATE to me who I will and will not serve or how I choose my religion?

    • Oshtur

      Who told you you couldn't pray in public places? If anyone told you that the ACLU would be glad to defend your right to do so. What is unconstitutional is a government agency to require prayer to any particular religion, or to mandate it in a government space.

  • John Fuller

    Businesses should reserve the right refuse service to any customer that they choose, just as customers should reserve the right to refuse patronage to any business that they choose… People should not be forced to accept terms that are beyond their personal conscience and convictions to accommodate those that choose to indulge in deviant behavior. With 100 people on a crowded bus on a hot day and 1 person is cold so they shut the air conditioner off with complete disregard for 99 people. Sounds fair right?

    • Oshtur

      Not the issue. This is one person refusing to serve 100 people because they don't like their religious point of views even though they have a constitutional right to that point of view and access to public accommodation regardless.

      Arlene's Flowers has a right to their religious point of view, their customers have a right to their own point of view, and the all have a right to do business with public accommodations like Arlene's. either Arlene's sells wedding arrangements or they don't. They advertise they sell flowers for 'all occasions.' Obviously weddings, regardless of the sex, race, religion or whatever fits in that broad category.

      There is no right to us the excuse of 'religious freedom' to illegally discriminate in Washington state.

  • Oshtur

    Oddly you see that there are those claiming that Article I, section 11 of the Washington constitution justifies Arlene's Flowers behavior when it does exactly the opposite. Yes, citizens of the state are given "absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship"… for themselves. But in regards to others they have a very specific limitation:

    "but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness"

    And what is licentiousness? The meaning has drifted in popular usage to mean sexual excesses but its legal definition is the same now as it was in the mid-19th century:

    "The indulgence of the arbitrary will of the individual, without regard to ethics or law, or respect for the rights of others."

    Our state laws say a business can't discriminate because of the marrying couple's races, religions, or sexual orientations, and the state constitution says that you can't violate these legal rights with the excuse of 'religious freedom.'

    Simply put the state constitution says religious freedom doesn't give permission to illegally discriminate.

    Either Arlene's Flowers sells wedding arrangements or they don't. If they do, sell them to any customer that wants to buy them whether they approve of their choice in spouses or not.

  • Matt

    The first amendment in the constitution of these United States says that no laws can be made to stop the practice of a persons religion. It does not say that they have to conform to a set business plan set forth by a state document it saws that we can practice whatever we want when we want and how we want. Federal law trumps state laws and constitutions based on the authority of the federal level. Ferguson is in the wrong. Any person is allowed to

    Do and worship as they ease in their home, or place of business.

    Just because the gay community finally got some recognition does not give them the right to dictate a persons religion or how they run a business since its neither the states descisive, the federal decision or a homosexuals decision if I choose to serve only traditional couples.

    • Oshtur

      You have missed the multiple Supreme Court rulings that have said the right to practice their religion extends to the customer. A business owner discriminating against a customer because they don't like their religious beliefs effects all their customers, a customer against a business owner effects only one. As such all such cases have gone to the customer's side.

      You don't want to be in a same sex marriage, or an inter racial one, or an inter faith one, then don't, that is your right. But you have no right to expect anyone else to not be in one, or to deny them access to a public business because of it.

      You run a business you pledge to obey the laws regulating that business.

      As the Supreme Court has said multiple times:

      "The mere possession of religious convictions which contradict the relevant concerns of a political society does not relieve the citizen from the discharge of political responsibilities… To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself."

  • Matt

    Yet congress is not allowed to make laws that interfere in the free worship or discussion of religion. Federal law still trumps the judiciary community. And an unconstitutional ruling is still wrong because its unconstitutional.

    The state needs to back off Arleen’s flowers because it is meddling into religion and we still have that while deprecation of church and state thing.

    • Oshtur

      Arlene's Flowers can do as they want regarding their own beliefs, they can't interfere in their customer's beliefs. Again, anyone at Arlene's that doesn't want to marry someone the same sex, particular race, particular faith, they don't have to. What they don't have the right to do is discriminate against a customer of a different creed on this issue.

      The right of religious freedom doesn't give the right to religiously discriminate. Your religion doesn't like same sex marriage don't be in one, but that doesn't negate the right of others to disagree and still do business with you.

      Religious freedom goes both ways and if you're not the one getting married your opinion stops at the end of your own nose.

  • Matt

    And bey is the two dudes in Washington want to file a suite against the flower shop then I am all for them doing that. But I see no reason that the state has to jump on there and sue the lady, that’s crossing the line and frankly wasting my tax dollars.

  • Oshtur

    Arlene's Flowers is violating the law and the state is obligated to prosecute lawbreakers. You don't like the obligations of business to serve customers regardless of their creed or sexual orientation then get it changed. Until then lawbreakers like Arlene's Flowers should be prosecuted when they willfully and brazenly break the law.

    Either Arlene's Flowers sells wedding arrangements or they do not. If they do then they need to sell them to whoever wants to buy them regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, veteran status or whatever.

    I honestly don't understand this case. The person claims to be Christian but Paul said multiple times to obey the law of the land and that it was ok for Christians to do business with unbelievers – their sins were between them and God. Of course there is no expectation for them to be a good Christian but it seems odd that they are so pedantic on this and don't 'walk the walk' themselves.

    • Bob

      If these were Muslims, Obama would be at their bakery applogizing to them. You really couldn’t find one liberal hippie bakery in Oregon??? I bet these people were baited by these lesbians. They had to know they would be turned down so they can make a stink.

  • Matt

    If the case was reversed and this was a matter of a gay man refusing service to a Christian, the. State would not step in and file a suite against the gay business owner citing that it would violate the seperation of church and state to support a religious persons beliefs.

    Arlen’s flowers still has the right to refuse service to anyone, there is no stipulation that there has to be a certain reason, they have the right to and the state is taking thy away and DICTATING that she has to serve them. Which means that they can step in and hit anyone for anything whicheams we are drones for the state. Good job folks.

    • Oshtur

      There is no right to refuse service for any reason you want, part of every business license is a pledge to comply with the laws of the jurisdiction issuing it. Part of the mystery of this – people claiming rights they have never had.

      And they aren't supporting anyone's religious beliefs, they are saying that it is illegal discrimination regardless of religious beliefs which is religion neutral. Arlene's has a right to its religious beliefs, the customers have a right to theirs and a right to do business with any licensed business regardless of those beliefs.

      The excuse of religious freedom can not be used to justify illegal discrimination. Either Arlene's sells wedding arrangements or they don't and if they do they can't use a religious litmus test to sort through which customers they will do business with. Now that would be unAmerican, unChristian, unethical, and illegal.

  • grown up

    Really? Go somewhere else. Why do you need to hassle someone because of that their beliefs? Isn't that what you are trying to get away from? It works both ways, not just your way!

  • Oshtur

    You realize the ones being 'hassled' because of their beliefs are the people asking the business to do business with them, right? The customers aren't the ones engaging in religious discrimination here, the businesses are. They are saying that these people don't do religion 'right' and are refusing to do business with them because of their beliefs.

    I agree, it works both ways – the customer's are respecting the right to the business people to not share their beliiefs now the business owner's need to reciprocate and deal with the customers no matter their beliefs.

    Mutual respect would go so far, wouldn't it?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s