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Melissa and Aaron Klein, the Christian bakers who faced $135,000 in penalties that were later dropped for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, are working on relaunching a new business.
Following the shutdown of their Oregon-based Sweet Cakes, the Kleins are raising funds to start a new business while their case is potentially headed toward the Supreme Court.
“Over the last several years we have been strong as a family and strong as part of our church body. With life’s stresses comes a void that can sometimes be overwhelming. That void for me was my loss of love for baking and the joy that came with that. I’m here to say it never went away but it was a struggle to fall in love with it again,” Melissa wrote in her fundraising description.
“Almost 2yrs ago we moved to Montana. I had said I was never going to open a bakery again, but God has seemed to change my heart with this. It’s been 10 years since having my shop in Oregon and I greatly miss it along with all my sweet customers, she added.
The Kleins are seeking $50,000 to fund the downpayment of a new location in Montana. More than $17,000 has already been donated toward the goal.
“Showing resilience and faith that God is the rock we stand on and His love will conquer all fears,” Melissa wrote in thanking supporters for their help.
The Kleins faced a government mandate from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) over refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013, claiming doing so would violate their religious beliefs.
In January, the BOLI reversed a previous attempt to stop the fine.
“We adhere to our prior decision upholding BOLI’s determinations that Aaron unlawfully discriminated against the Bowman-Cryers based on sexual orientation,” wrote Circuit Judge Erin Lagesen, the author of the panel opinion. “We reach a different conclusion with respect to our prior affirmance of BOLI’s noneconomic damages award,” ruled Lagesen.
Earlier this year, however, an Oregon Court of Appeals upheld its original finding and threw out the fine over a claim of subtle bias against the religious beliefs of the Kleins.
“The court was right five years ago and is still right today,” attorney Jennifer Pizer, who represented the lesbian couple, said in a statement. “The Kleins’ faith does not give them a pass to ignore Oregon’s Public Accommodation Law.”
“The court adhered to the position that the Oregon courts had previously taken that nondiscrimination laws can be taken to protect same sex couples, regardless of religious beliefs,” Jim Oleske, a law professor at Lewis & Clark, said on Twitter.
7/ The Court then concludes that the hostility potentially evidenced by the prosecutor's statement may have influenced the agency's decision to award damages: pic.twitter.com/vNtlUtnPMB
— Jim Oleske (@JimOleske) January 26, 2022
Oleske noted that the court’s conclusion in the ruling emphasized “that the hostility potentially evidenced by the prosecutor’s statement may have influenced the agency’s decision to award damages.”