In 2013 Aaron and Melissa Klein declined to design and create a wedding cake celebrating a same-sex marriage.
That decision led to years of death threats, boycotts and a government-endorsed political jihad waged by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. Ultimately, the Kleins were found guilty of discrimination because they refused to create a government-approved message and were ordered to pay $135,000.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries found the Kleins had violated the state’s accommodations statue by declining to design and create the cake. The government agency also issued a gag order — preventing the Kleins from even talking about their beliefs.
The significant fine came after the lesbian couple said they had been physically harmed by the bakery’s decision not to bake the wedding cake.
According to a court filing, the couple alleged they had suffered depression, embarrassment, hysteria, impaired digestion, nervous appetite, weight gain, and mental anguish. They also said they felt “mentally raped.”
The jaw-dropping fine was the end of the road for the Kleins. They were forced to shut down “Sweet Cakes By Melissa,” their beloved family bakery.
First Liberty Institute, one of the nation’s top law firms handling religious liberty and free speech cases, has been with the Klein family every step along the journey. They have also been joined by Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, the former White House counsel for President George H.W. Bush.
“Free Americans should not be compelled by the government to create a message that conflicts with their deepest convictions,” Gray said.
Ultimately, the Oregon Supreme Court declined to hear the Klein’s case — letting stand the lower court ruling’s devastating fine.
Now, the fate of the Klein family lies with the United States Supreme Court.
On Monday First Liberty Institute filed a petition with the Court asking justices to reverse the state of Oregon’s decision.
“Freedom of speech has always included the freedom not to speak the government’s message,” First Liberty president Kelly Shackelford said. “This case can clarify whether speech is truly free if it is government mandated.”
The plight of the Oregon bakers touched the hearts of millions of fellow Christians around the nation – including Franklin Graham.
“Shouldn’t people of faith have rights too? Don’t Aaron and Melissa Klein’s rights count for anything,” Graham wrote on his popular Facebook page. “I’ve met Aaron and Melissa. As a result of this episode, they’ve lost their business and had their lives turned upside down. They’ve had to deal with these legal issues continually since day 1. It has impacted their family and their future. Who is considering the Klein’s emotional distress after being targeted by the LGBT agenda?”
In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court only reminded the state that government officials cannot be hostile to the free exercise of the religion.
But in the Klein case the justices have the opportunity to settle one of the most critical issues left unresolved in the Masterpiece case: can the government compel citizens to create a message contrary to their religious beliefs?