WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Oregon Court of Appeals must review it decision to uphold a fine against a baker who denied a lesbian couple a wedding cake.
The Washington Blade reported that the bakery, Sweetcakes by Melissa, had been issued a $135,000 fine for violating Oregon’s nondiscrimination laws. The owners said that baking the cake would violate their religious beliefs. The Supreme Court has told the Oregon courts to review how the issue was handled and check for anti-religious bias.
Lambda Legal said that SCOTUS ordered the case sent back to the Oregon court for reconsideration in light of its narrow 2018 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Human Rights Commission finding in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple.
“It is very disappointing that the US Supreme Court did not simply deny the discriminating baker’s request for more review. It is a longstanding legal rule that the freedom of religion is not a license for businesses to discriminate, and this is one more case about a wedding cake in which an antigay business owner is trying to use religious beliefs to excuse denying commercial services to a lesbian couple. Just as the Washington Supreme Court did earlier this month in the Arlene’s Flowers case, the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled correctly that businesses violate Oregon law when they refuse to serve LGBT families. We are confident that, just as in Arlene’s Flowers, now that the U.S. Supreme Court has sent the case back to the state court for a second look, the Oregon court will again confirm that this discrimination case has been handled fairly and justly, precisely as Oregon law and the U.S. Constitution require,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel and Law & Policy Director, Lambda Legal.
“No one should ever experience what we went through when planning what should be one of life’s more joyous moments,” Rachel Bowman-Cryer, one of the plantiffs in the lawsuit, said. “To be called an ‘abomination’ because of who you are and who you love, and now always to be afraid that the next store we go into will reject us with the same contempt and discrimination – that’s the legacy of our treatment by the Kleins. We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not wrap this up once and for all, but we are hopeful that courts that understood how stigmatizing that illegal treatment is and how it harmed our entire family will reconfirm their earlier decision.”