Ore. to Probe Refusal of Same-Sex Wedding Cake
A same-sex couple in Oregon who tried to buy a cake for their wedding has filed a discrimination complaint against the bakery that turned them down on religious grounds.
The state Bureau of Labor and Industries will investigate whether Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated a 2007 state law that protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations, The Oregonian (http://bit.ly/13A5MrI) reported Wednesday.
In her complaint, Rachel N. Cryer, 30, said she went to the Gresham bakery on Jan. 17 for an appointment to order the cake. She met with owner Aaron Klein, who asked for the date and names of the bride and groom.
"I told him, ’There are two brides and our names are Rachel and Laurel,’" the complaint says.
Klein responded that he and his wife didn’t serve same-sex weddings and "cited a religious belief for its refusal to make cakes for same-sex couples planning to marry," the complaint says.
Melissa Klein said the complaint was delivered to the bakery on Tuesday.
"It’s definitely not discrimination at all. We don’t have anything against lesbians or homosexuals," she said. "It has to do with our morals and beliefs."
The 2007 law provides an exemption for religious organizations and parochial schools but does not allow private business owners to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
The complaint will go to an investigator. If substantial evidence of discrimination is found, the inquiry could lead to a settlement or proceedings before an administrative law judge.
The judge could propose an order to the labor commissioner, Brad Avakian, who would make the final decision. The amount of the damages that could be awarded isn’t capped and depends on the circumstances of each case, said bureau spokesman Charlie Burr.
"The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate," Avakian said. "For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon."
The bureau says it’s the 10th complaint received in five years of discrimination in a public place based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Of the other nine, four were unsubstantiated, three resulted in negotiated settlements, one was privately settled, and one is pending.