Paybacks are tough. This was the lesson learned by the Oregon public official who suffered a humiliating defeat at the ballot box after being responsible for shutting down a Christian-owned bakery that refused to cater a gay “wedding.”
The Stream is reporting on the demise of the campaign of Brad Avakian who served as commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries since 2008. It was during this time that he achieved national notoriety for investigating Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a family-run bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple because of their Christian beliefs.
Avakian showed no mercy to the store’s owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, and claimed that their refusal to bake the cake amounted to illegal discrimination and was not protected by the First Amendment. As a result, he levied a crippling fine of $135,000 against them last year. Even though supporters raised more than half a million dollars for the bakery, they were forced to shutter their business last month.
“It wasn’t the only time Avakian used heavy fines to push gay rights,” reports Blake Neff for the Stream. “He also fined a bar owner more than $400,000 for telling a group of cross-dressers and transgender people to stay away, because the owner didn’t want his bar to be characterized as a ‘tranny bar’.”
Meanwhile, Avakian decided to run for higher office in the state and launched a bid for Oregon secretary of state. He lost badly to Republican Dennis Richardson who became the first conservative to win an Oregon stateside office in 14 years. Richardson will be the first Republican secretary of state since 1985.
Why did Avakian lose? Some say it was because of his blatant ambition, and his vow to turn the office into a vehicle for progressive politics. This created a stark contrast with Richardson who promised to focus on the job’s traditional role of monitoring elections and auditing public spending.
Unfortunately, Avakian’s political career is not yet over. He still has two more years to serve as Oregon’s labor commissioner.
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