The Kleins, who owned Sweet Cakes By Melissa, made national headlines in 2013 when they declined to make a wedding cake for Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
The high-profile case involves a Colorado baker, Jack Phillips, who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. They also argued Avakian's decision violated their rights to free expression as artists, their rights to due process and that the fine was excessive.
"We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build", Melissa Klein proclaimed following the incident.
The decision marked another chapter in the longstanding dispute between the bakers, Melissa and Aaron Klein, and the couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, which goes back to 2013 when the Kleins refused to provide service and the Bowman-Cryers filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.
The state ruled Sweet Cakes had discriminated against the lesbian couple, and in July 2015, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered the Kleins pay $135,000 for emotional damages suffered.
On Thursday, almost five years after the incident that ignited the case, the Oregon Court of Appeals sided with the state and upheld the penalty against the Kleins. The Kleins have directed us to no evidence whatsoever that ORS 659A.403 was enacted for the objective of singling out religiously motivated action, or that BOLI has selectively targeted religion in its enforcement of the statute. "OR will not allow a "Straight Couples Only" sign to be hung in bakeries or other stores".
The First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom law firm that represented the Kleins, said it is disappointed by the ruling. Adam Gustafston, attorney for the Kleins, was not immediately available for comment.
The Oregon ruling comes as the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the question of whether wedding vendors who disagree with gay marriage must be forced to service same-sex wedding ceremonies, even if doing so would violate their religious convictions. The Kleins likewise fail to support their assertion that BOLI's final order constitutes a "novel expansion" of the statute, rather than a straightforward application of a facially neutral statute to the facts of this case.