You may recall that back in 2013, Laurel Bowman and Rachel Cryer, a lesbian couple in Portland, wanted to get a wedding cake from a baker in nearby Gresham–only to have the bakers tell them that their devout Christian beliefs wouldn’t allow them to make a cake for an LGBT wedding. Laurel and Rachel complained, only to have the bakers plaster the complaint on Facebook, complete with Laurel and Rachel’s home address–thus opening them up to ugly harassment that continues to this day.
Well, in what can only be described as a case of poetic justice, that baker is no more. On Monday, word got out that Sweet Cakes by Melissa has gone out of business. Hiram Sasser, an attorney for bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein, told Fox News commentator Todd Starnes that the Kleins decided to close up shop several months ago, but just now got around to updating their Facebook page to reflect it.
However, Sasser said that he and his firm, First Liberty Institute, intend to press forward with the Kleins’ appeal of the $135,000 fine they were assessed in 2015 for discriminating against Laurel and Rachel. Sasser said that First Liberty remains committed to fighting for the Kleins and others “who find themselves in similar circumstances in the future.”
Predictably, this announcement caused heads to explode on the right. David Leach of The Strident Conservative railed that the Kleins were the latest scalps to be claimed by “the anti-Christian, pro-LGBT Gay Mafia,” which is supposedly hellbent on “the complete and utter destruction of Christianity in America.” Along similar lines, Starnes wrung his hands at how this good Christian family was “literally run out of business by an anti-Christian, homo-fascist mob.”
I wonder if Leach and Starnes would be so quick to defend the Kleins if they knew what Aaron did once he learned that the Oregon Department of Justice was investigating a complaint filed by Laurel and Rachel. He posted a copy of the notice to Sweet Cakes by Melissa’s Facebook page–with Laurel and Rachel’s address completely unredacted. Within days, Laurel and Rachel became the targets of harassment of the ugliest and cruelest type–including death threats.
By then, the Kleins were making the rounds on secular and Christian media, claiming that those big bad lesbians were persecuting them. As much as Laurel and Rachel wanted to respond, they feared it could jeopardize their plans to adopt their two foster daughters. Rachel was also forced to quit her job. They dropped the case, but filed a complaint with the Bureau of Labor Standards when the Kleins’ lies continued unabated.
The bureau’s staffers were so outraged at Aaron’s doxxing that they wanted to fine the Kleins $150,000. However, state labor commissioner Brad Avakian found that Oregon law didn’t support a fine for this kind of harassment. He did, however, fine the Kleins $135,000 for the original discrimination. They paid the fine with interest in December. However, Laurel and Rachel–now Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer–have yet to see a penny since it is being held in escrow while the Kleins continue their appeal.
In the meantime, Laurel and Rachel were forced to move as a result of the harassment. According to an op-ed they wrote last month in The Advocate, it was especially hard because their now-adopted daughters both have special needs. The oldest, Lizzy, has cerebral palsy, autism, and a chromosomal disorder; Laurel cares for her round the clock. Anastasia has Asperger’s. They now run an event-planning business out of their home, but there are still times they find it hard to get food on the table.
In the meantime, the harassment continues unabated–harassment that was brought on because a so-called Christian baker doxxed them on social media. In case you missed it, watch a sample of the threats they got, courtesy The (Portland) Oregonian.
Keep that in mind if you hear about the Kleins being persecuted. From where I’m sitting, they were the ones doing the persecuting. They have no moral authority to pursue this appeal. If you agree, drop the Kleins a line on their Facebook page.