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Oregon

Bakery under investigation for refusing wedding cake for same-sex couple

Sunday, February 3, 2013

GRESHAM, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Justice is investigating a complaint that a bakery in Gresham, Ore., refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex wedding, a possible violation of an Oregon law that prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation.

Aaron Klein

Aaron Klein, owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, said he sells cakes to customers of all sexual orientations, but draws the line, however, at wedding cakes for same-sex couples.

The complaint by Laurel Bowman stated that Klein called her and her fiance “abominations unto the Lord,” and said their money wasn’t equal.

Klein denied calling the couple “abominations” or saying their money was unequal, but he acknowledged to The Oregonian newspaper and KATU-TV that he refused them service.

“I believe marriage is a religious institution between a man and woman as stated in the Bible,” Klein said Friday. “When someone tells me that their definition is something different, I strongly disagree. I don’t think I should be penalized for that.”

Klein and his wife, who opened the bakery five years ago, do not hide their religious beliefs.

The sweet cakes website says they “strongly believe that when a man and women come together to be joined as one, it is [truly] one of the most special days of their lives.”

But Klein said he and his wife want to make it clear that they do not hate homosexuals.

The couple has two weeks to respond to the Oregon Department of Justice’s inquiry into the incident.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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111 more reader comments:

  1. I’m sure there are other bakeries in town who’d be glad to take their business.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:08pm
  2. To hell with them.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:10pm
  3. I don’t understand their bigotry! Either way, the bakery would get money, so I don’t see the big deal whether they’re gay or straight!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:10pm
  4. a bakery is not a public place it is a place of business. While they are stupid to turn down a sale, it is the choice they are free to make. Do not ask for your freedom only to try to take away another persons freedom

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:10pm
  5. they should be exposed for their homophobia so people can decide if they want to spend their money there

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:10pm
  6. That Idiot still living in the Centuries

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:11pm
  7. Very sad! Hurt them with money. Do not patronize their business. There are better bakeries to buy from.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:12pm
  8. I EMAILED There Bitch asses . That shit pisses me off

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:12pm
  9. They’re dumb as hell . MONEY IS MONEY who fucking cares who the fuck the customer is.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:13pm
  10. I am gay, and I find this offensive. However, every business has the right to refuse service to anyone.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:15pm
  11. This is their right as private business owners. They are bigoted and ignorant, but not legally wrong. Take your business elsewhere.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:17pm
  12. Eric, there are laws against businesses being allowed to discriminate against certain minority groups, otherwise, many places would still prohibit Blacks from eating in their diners or prevent women from buying tools or the like. If you’re not on the side of equality, you might be in the wrong group :)

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:17pm
  13. Shame on owner Aaron Klein.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:18pm
  14. @Randy, they do have that right unless it is prohibited by law to discriminate against sexual preference, just like it is in Oregon.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:18pm
  15. I live near here. I will never use their place or buy their goods. Love is love is love is love. Marriage is a contract between two consenting adults. That is all.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:18pm
  16. I hope their business will go down the toilet.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:19pm
  17. @Kryss: You don’t understand how laws work for private business. It’s how the Boy Scouts can exclude gays and atheists. You can do whatever you want as long as you aren’t a public entity.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:19pm
  18. So not kool!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:19pm
  19. WOW how pathetic.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:21pm
  20. I’m gay and quite honestly don’t give a shit their own personal opinions or who they wish to serve t their businesses but they ought to have the right to refuse service to anyone. Surely this can’t be America? Ridic!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:22pm
  21. Psh, their loss. If it were me, money is money, and gay money spends just like straight money. It’s all good guys; just roll elsewhere.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:22pm
  22. That’s not completely true-about businesses being free to do what they want. It’s an assumption because people keep saying it over and over. There are states where there are limits on what you, as a business, can decide to do or not do.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:22pm
  23. I think it’s wrong, but I don’t follow how it’s a violation of public accommodation. It is their private business.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:22pm
  24. If I owned a bear bar, I’d service him regardless of his religious preference and lifestyle choice.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:25pm
  25. @Debra: In terms of who they choose to exclude and include, yes, they are protected. A private business can kick out or refuse service to literally anyone.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:26pm
  26. Although I don’t like it, they can refuse to serve whomever they want.You also don’t have to go to that bakery. Spend your hard earned money elsewhere!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:27pm
  27. That’s so heart breaking. We booked our wedding venue at the Avi Resorts in Nevada. When we showed up to make all the final arrangements in person we were immediately told that they did not agree with same sex marriage & that they were pretty sure Nevada wouldn’t recognize it. We explained that we filed our domestic partnership in California. We were just simply celebrating with our family. They sent us our $$$ back & voided the contract. Long story short. 3 months later they hosted the international gay rodeo comp there. Lol. Guess for the right $$$ they were able to compromise their beliefs.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:29pm
  28. 44 Ne Division Gresham or 97030
    503-674-5400
    melissa@sweetcakesweb.com

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:29pm
  29. It is illegal to discriminate in the state of Oregon based solely on their sexual identity.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:29pm
  30. Still love how people use their interpretation of the bible but if you look close enough at the guy in the pic there is a tat in his left arm and both ears pierced… Leviticus 19:28 comes to mind…

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:30pm
  31. his wife is probably a Lesbian……The 1950′s called………..They want their Attitude back………

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:30pm
  32. Read the article, they may be in violation of an Oregon law that prohibits discrimination in public places of accommodations. Food and lodging might be considered “accommodations”. I’m sure this law is part of their business license, and if it is, they’re in the wrong. I don’t think the Department of Justice would even be looking into if there wasn’t a chance that they’d be able to accuse them of discrimination.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:30pm
  33. I wouldn’t want to give an asshole like that my business anyway.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:32pm
  34. This Guy is probably in the closet himself.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:35pm
  35. @Kenny: They aren’t a public company, though. That wouldn’t apply to them, nor should it. If it does then the law is ridiculous, and these business owner’s rights should be protected.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:36pm
  36. And they need to be kicked for forcing their beliefs on others. Not everyone is into organized religion, not everyone believes in the bible and God. It’s everyone’s right to believe what they want but u do not have the right to disrespect people.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:38pm
  37. For those who don’t understand how what they are doing is wrong let me make a simple. Suppose the customer was Jewish and they said since Christians they can not sell a wedding cake for a Jewish wedding or a bar mitzvah. Would you still be so quick to say they are right.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:38pm
  38. We were married in Connecticut at the Italian Center in our city, no questions asked. For those places who turn us away, boycott, boycott, boycott!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:41pm
  39. Fredric, yes. That is their right as PRIVATE business owners.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:42pm
  40. To all those who say that this isn’t legally wrong; please do some fact-checking. It seems that Oregon has a law that says you cannot discriminate in places of accommodation and places that serve food are sufficient to be categorized as places of accommodation. Therefore, they are *legally* not allowed to discriminate regardless of the fact that they are a private business.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:44pm
  41. Evyn, you are wrong. The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 prohibits discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The statute includes public accommodations, such as businesses.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:47pm
  42. I say let em discriminate! I vote with my dollars as citizens united made possible but also let then have a big pink triangel with a red slash through it so the public knows they openly discriminate!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:47pm
  43. Also, There is no exception under the state’s anti-discrimination law for religious beliefs. Ultimately, the case would be up for a judge to decide.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:48pm
  44. This business owner should have known the law on discrimination in his state before he broke the law. By Oregon law, he might as well said I don’t sell to blacks or Jews. Homosexuals receive the same protection under that 2007 Equality Act.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:52pm
  45. be made to apply for an open discrimination license! this licenses comes with the mandate to openly advertise and post said chosen group to discriminate against. have any federally guaranteed small business loans to become immediately due and payable or refinanced so the federal gov no longer has to back said loans upon approval of said licenses as the federal government has anti discrimination laws and should not be funding nor guaranteeing the loans anyone who holds approval of said license and they pay a discrimination tax!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:52pm
  46. I bet those bastards would line up to apply for a license but so what then we know and money talks bullshit walks

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:53pm
  47. A SCOTUS case concluded that private business owners have the right to discriminate, as they should. If Oregon is saying these people cannot then they’re going to have a hard time with that in court. They are not using public money. They shouldn’t be forced to abide by public business laws.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:54pm
  48. Evyn no it is not, it is against the law in Oregon, as well as many other states.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:55pm
  49. What happens if all the bakeries refuse to serve LGBT patrons? Or if the restaurants in town follow suit? Or the dentists?…

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:57pm
  50. I don’t hate you.. I just won’t serve you??!! I hope that jesus treats them the way that they treat people whom they can see

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:57pm
  51. The best way to affect change is to make others aware and use your dollars elsewhere.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 1:58pm
  52. Evyn, they might be “private business owners” like you keep saying, but they are a public business and therefore they are in violation of the 2007 Equity Act. It’s the law and so it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, they discriminated against these people based on their sexual orientation and that’s been illegal in Oregon for over 5 years. You’d think a legitimate business owner would keep up to date on the laws that effect their business.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:00pm
  53. See, to me, if a business doesn’t want to bake me a cake or host my reception or whatever, I say, well, F U. I will go somewhere that appreciates my business and dollars. Eventually people like this ass clown will be left out and then wondering why he has to close his doors and his business fails. Well, it things like this is why.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:02pm
  54. I agree that they should’ve known the current laws, but I disagree with the enforcement of it if that’s the case. By saying “public” what does the law mean? How is not every business public when it deals with people? I’m confused.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:03pm
  55. So what? It’s their business. If a business decides to not sell me something because I fall under [demographic] or they just don’t like me (the difference hardly mattes), I’ll move on, not get butthurt, and give my money to their competitors.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:04pm
  56. Matters**

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:05pm
  57. Evyn, Google it. I found everything about the 2007 Equity Act in under 5 minutes. In this case, it doesn’t matter whether you disagree with it or not, it’s the law.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:08pm
  58. I haven’t been able to as of yet, but I will.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:09pm
  59. For them, in Oregon, to say that they won’t do a wedding cake for a same sex couple, would be like them telling a black couple that they wouldn’t do their wedding cake because they’re black.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:13pm
  60. people suck

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:19pm
  61. Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:19pm
  62. There is no bigot clause in our law system. Suck it up and stop being an asshat. If not, then you don’t deserve business at all.

    Boycott the fuckers.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:20pm
  63. Seriously. Just go somewhere else. Let people believe what they want to believe. I’m sure they would be equally opposed to doing a black wedding cake with a pentagram on it. I’m not saying the two are similar by any means, just saying that you can always get a cake made elsewhere. I would bet, however, that the couple chose this place because they knew they were against it and then rang the Discrimination Bell to get attention. I’m a gay man who will hopefully be getting married at some point. If nobody wants to make our cake, one of us will make it ourselves. Don’t you have any gay male friends who can bake? lol

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:21pm
  64. James, the only thing is, it’s the law. Plain and simple. They went to this bakery because they had gotten a wedding cake for one of the girls mother who was getting married. If someone decades ago hadn’t “rang the discrimination bell” chances are you wouldn’t be looking forward to getting married. Congrats on your wedding plans!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:32pm
  65. He said he didn’t care if there were consequences. He may rethink that later…

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:34pm
  66. Discrimination is wrong, but unfortunately suing them is gong to give NOM and their alied groups ammunition in their fight against marriage equality. With multiple States taking up the issue and SCOTUS set to hear arguments about DOMA and prop. 8 in March we need to think about how our individual actions are impacting that fight. Boycott the business yes but don’t help our enemies.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:44pm
  67. He should be thankful hes getting money…

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:56pm
  68. Lisa, It’s the law! This same sex couple isn’t doing anything that they are not allowed to and that is covered by a 5 year old law. If you went to a doctor to have your appendix removed and they instead amputated your leg, you would sue them. A law was broken, the owner of the bakery discriminated against a same sex couple, and they most definitely should sue. The more precidents made, towards equality, the sooner we’ll all have equal rights.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 2:58pm
  69. Why do people think it is okay to allow bigotry in the name of religion

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:17pm
  70. How about a Pop Cake where little naked midget comes out?

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:34pm
  71. Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:42pm
  72. Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:43pm
  73. I believe that equal rights are why this bakery should be left alone. I wanna be free to marry and thankfully am should he arrive. We don’t want them stepping in with their opinions pressing us to live as they see fit. Should we turn around to do the same thing? Even if I would refuse to shop their tell everyone about the great bakery anywhere. Do we want to continue living in a way that could turn back all of our work if this majority fails? Isn’t the problem a body by the people for the people having the ability and willingness to segregate rights.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 3:52pm
  74. They will complain that we (those people) put them out of business.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 4:00pm
  75. No one has the right to segregate.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 4:11pm
  76. Discrimination and segregation is not a right. And it won’t be “equal” if we don’t hold them to the consequences of their actions in the eyes of the law.

    We have the right to service regardless of our sexual preferences.

    People need to stop carpet bagging.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 4:27pm
  77. When my boyfriend and I are ready to make it official, we will be patronizing businesses which advertise they are LGBT friendly. They are numerous. I just spent $25,000 updating my condo’s bathroom and kitchen. The business is LGBT owned and operated. There are bakeries, reception halls, and caterers that advertise as such. Major metropolitan areas have LGBT publications, in which companies advertise. Why would I patronize companies which do not want my business? I would be willing to pay more to support my community The first hint they are bigoted should have been the Bible verse on their website.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 4:45pm
  78. There are places that don’t discriminate..My partner n I own and operate a bakery and we make cakes for in occasions. For any one

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 5:05pm
  79. Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:18pm
  80. So regrettably there business will slowly flounder. Let them bake for there particular audience and let’s see how long it takes. Maybe they could be missionaries at the south pole, oh and they could sell frozen cakes. These people are jerks!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:21pm
  81. Mean people suck

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:23pm
  82. Because it’s the law! We need to take advantage of the laws that do give is rights, the more we do this the more “normal” it will be. And to those saying, “just go somewhere else”, this isn’t a hypothetical situation. This has already happened, a same sex couple has already been discriminated against in one of the few states that doesn’t allow discrimination based on sexual orientation, and your best advice is to go to a Gay owned or Gay friendly bakery? That’s what white people told black people to do when they were discriminated against.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 6:34pm
  83. Yeah, it happened in Lakewood, CO. However, my point is, why add a hateful memory like this to an otherwise beautiful occasion? I’d rather shop with my community in mind. Many neighbors, gay and straight, checked out the work on my kitchen and bathroom, and have another project with an older straight couple in my building. Word of mouth spreads quickly. the best thing to do, if possible, is to patron LGBT friendly businesses.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 7:41pm
  84. Disgusting and illegal but perhaps a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t have wanted to give my money to closet bigot like this one! Now this couple knows that their money would be better spent elsewhere!

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 9:46pm
  85. How nice it must be in today’s economic climate, to be independently wealthy enough to refuse customers. Or perhaps I’ve mistaken the situation and these people are just irrelevant mouth breathers soaking up useful oxygen and wasting it on bad grammar.

    Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013 at 10:24pm
  86. BOOOOOOO i know where i WONT be getting my cake from!

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 8:32am
  87. Um…as much as I think this guy is a douche…businesses have the right to refuse service.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:46pm
  88. Apparently, they don’t need the business!!

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:46pm
  89. Destroy that bakery. -_-

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:46pm
  90. homophobia: where being a petty, infantile dickhead is considered “taking a moral stand”

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:46pm
  91. who wonts there cakes then !

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:48pm
  92. Makes me sick :(

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:49pm
  93. yucky, fuck them

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:51pm
  94. Wasn’t it just easier to make the Damn Cake? Now being investigated by the department of justice? probably going to cost you your business. I hope it’s worth it!

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:54pm
  95. I wouldn’t want their cake anyways. Screw the ignorant assholes

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:55pm
  96. @Sean, What about blacks — do you think businesses have the right to refuse service to black people? Businesses don’t have the right to discriminate, at least not in Oregon and many other cities and states with anti-discrimination laws.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 6:57pm
  97. Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:00pm
  98. free publicity :/

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:01pm
  99. The publicity will give them business either way. The bigots will rush to support them. Meanwhile simply being of service to another human being on what should be one their happiest days instead becomes a personal act of hatred. Those who throw stones never look into their own mirrors or they’d see an imperfect human being. Not a God in charge of the world. …and I prefer pie.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:03pm
  100. I respect their belief and conviction..but…discrimination is discrimination is discrimination.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:04pm
  101. Boycott him and watch his business go down!!

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:14pm
  102. This is stupid on both sides of the fence. The bakery does not deserve to be investigated. The couple can just give them a wide berth and tell their family and friends not to use this bakery for anything. Easy enough. Word of mouth can harm a business too.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:26pm
  103. So judgmental.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:26pm
  104. They shouldn’t be operating a business if they’re going to be discriminating whoever they want. I hope they close them down :)

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:35pm
  105. You can’t discriminate if the ppl are protected under anti-discrimination laws, such as African-americans, and i enlightened places, gay poll!!

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:35pm
  106. Who cares… it is a private business. Get over it, and find someone who is not a bigot and wants the money.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 7:44pm
  107. there not a private business there open to the public.and we need a list of all place that welcome the the lgbtq community

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 8:10pm
  108. This is pretty damn sad, and bigoted. However, legally some businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason. Believe it not. this shouldn’t be the case, but there it is…

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 8:35pm
  109. OK folks! It’s the law in Oregon! This bakery broke the law! That’s why they’re being investigated. It’s the law in Oregon that businesses like theirs CAN NOT discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation. It’s just that simple.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 10:04pm
  110. When im in oregon i know where not to buy a cake. Why the hell am i going to make this guy richer

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 10:08pm
  111. As a married gay man I am not sure why this is an issue. He has the right to pick who he wants as his customer. He has to live with himself but still his right to say no as much as my right to marry.

    Posted on Monday, February 4, 2013 at 10:26pm