According to First Liberty, the legal organization that is defending Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes, the Supreme Court reversed the decision by a lower court that penalized them $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The case was sent back to the Oregon courts for further review in light of the Supreme Court decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, government officials, who had acted with hostility toward Christian Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, were reminded that they are not permitted to be hostile to the free exercise of the religious beliefs of its citizens.
A similar situation occurred with the Kleins in Oregon when the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) found that the couple had violated Oregon’s public accommodations statute by declining to bake the cake. They were slapped with a crippling $135,000 penalty for “emotional damages” their decision caused the same-sex couple who filed the complaint. In addition, the BOLI also issued a gag order on the couple which prevented them from even talking about their beliefs. As a result, the Kleins were forced to shut down their bakery. The couple appealed the BOLI ruling which reversed the gag order but otherwise upheld the lower court ruling against them. It was this ruling that the Supreme Court vacated on Monday.
“This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel to First Liberty. “The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government. The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.”
This battle has been won, but the war against the religious liberty of Americans who disagree with same-sex marriage on religious grounds is far from over. The Supreme Court has yet to rule on the merits of these cases but may be forced to do so in the near future. A similar case, involving a Christian florist named Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene's Flowers in Washington state who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding, also made its way to the Supreme Court and was ordered back to the state for review in light of the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. However, after reviewing the case, the lower court upheld its decision which means the case is now headed back to the Supreme Court.
This time, the justices may be forced to rule on whether or not same-sex couples and the state laws that support them violate the Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion by forcing people to provide services for events that violate their religious beliefs.
Let us keep all of these cases in our prayers!
In the meantime, if you would like to send a letter of support to the Kleins, click here!
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