Monday 22nd January 2018

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Let’s Teach Those Dirty, Bigoted Bakers

January 8, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By MIKE MANNO

In the days between Christmas and New Year’s, the high gods of secularism rose once again to teach unbelievers, those poor wayward Christians, that their beliefs are no longer tolerated by the enlightened illuminati of our time; and that if you dare to dissent from the new cultural orthodoxy you will be crushed by the weight of the avenging state until you are left broken and your lives destroyed.
So said the state of Oregon through its appeals court, as it crushed a poor family that only wanted to live by their arcane Christian beliefs by baking sweet treats for their clients and friends. Instead, the novelty of same-sex marriage, where a woman will leave her family for another woman, and marriage can have two wives as well as two husbands, must trump all else.
The case began in 2013 when one of the brides, Rachel Bowman-Cryer, went to a local bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, to purchase a wedding cake. When told there was no groom, the bakery explained that they did not bake cakes for same-sex weddings. Even though this was before Oregon recognized same-sex weddings, the bride’s mother returned to the store and told Aaron Klein, co-owner along with his wife, Melissa, that she had once believed as he did but having homosexual children had changed “truth” for her.
New truth or not, the bakery stood firm. Rachel and her lesbian partner, Laurel, then filed a complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The gist of the complaint was that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated a 2007 Oregon law which protects the rights of gays and lesbians in public accommodations. The Kleins argued that their actions were not discrimination against homosexuals, but a simple refusal to participate in or provide their artistic services for a ceremony with which they have a moral objection.
The state’s labor commissioner is one Brad Avakian under whose authority the bureau was to rule on the complaint in the Kleins’ case. An administrative law judge, appointed by Avakian, Alan McCullough, after a hearing issued a proposed order against the Kleins and recommended that they pay $135,000; $75,000 to Rachel and $60,000 to Laurel because “the Kleins imposed mental, physical, and emotional damages upon the lesbians” by refusing to bake a wedding cake for them.
In case you are wondering how the state came up with the $135,000 figure, it was because the lesbian couple claimed they were “mentally raped” and listed over 80 symptoms including: “acute loss of confidence,” “doubt,” “excessive sleep,” “felt mentally raped, dirty, and shameful,” “high blood pressure,” “impaired digestion,” “loss of appetite,” “migraine headaches,” “pale and sick at home after work,” “resumption of smoking habit,” “shock,” “stunned,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “weight gain,” and “worry.
Apparently, no one noticed that “impaired digestion…loss of appetite…and weight gain” might be contradictory claims, but alas, this is not what the case was about. It was about teaching those evil Christians a lesson.
In administrative proceedings, it is usual for a hearing officer, or administrative law judge, to issue a proposed order. Said order becomes the final order of the commission or bureau after a set period of time, unless the bureau decides differently — in short, the final decision was up to Avakian.
Avakian, however, had some ties to a vocal LGBT group, Basic Rights Oregon, who had donated $8,000 to his campaign for commissioner, and a history of LGBT support. So before the hearing with McCullough, the Kleins filed a motion to recuse the commissioner since under the law he would have the final say in the case. Citing his long history of support for LGBT goals, and 29 pages of emails, Facebook posts, and newspaper articles, the Kleins argued that these demonstrated his bias against them.
The judge who heard the recusal motion was none other than Avakin’s appointee Alan McCullough, who ruled against the Kleins, stating that while some of his emails, Facebook posts, and newspaper interviews dealt with Sweet Cakes by Melissa, they failed to show any prejudice on the commissioner’s part; and he held — oddly — that even though Avakian would be making a final determination in a quasi-judicial role he need not be bound by the code of judicial ethics.
After McCullough’s draft order was published, the case went to a reconciliation stage, whereby the parties were to try to compromise and settle their differences or challenge the proposed order. This was a time, according to Avakian, for reconciliation. “Everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to discriminate. The goal is never to shut down a business. The goal is to rehabilitate. For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon,” he said.
Before Avakian’s final order was issued, the Kleins appeared in a Family Research Council interview with Tony Perkins. In the interview Aaron said that the fight was not over, they would appeal, and that “we will continue to stand strong.”
Apparently incensed by the Kleins’ willingness to continue to fight and not to be “rehabilitated,” Avakian’s final order not only upheld the $135,000 payment but added: “The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industry [Avakian] hereby orders [the Kleins] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published…any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation.”
In other words, the Kleins were ordered to stop speaking publicly about not wishing to participate in same-sex weddings. It was a gag order and prevented the Kleins from articulating their view in public. Lawyers for the lesbian couple, who had since been “married,” applauded the order, arguing that the mere “communication” of their religious beliefs was discrimination in itself.
Of course, Sweet Cakes by Melissa was forced out of business, in no small part due to the social reaction to their beliefs because, of course, they must be bigots. Supporters tried to help the Klein family by opening a GoFundMe page which was shut down because the funds were raised for people found “in violation of the law.
The Kleins, by now bankrupt, appealed through the Oregon court system, but were constantly denied any relief except for the gag order. The state’s court of appeals reversed that part of Avakian’s order the last week of December, but upheld the rest. The Kleins can still appeal to the State Supreme Court.
Avakian, who, as mentioned, had long ties with the LBGT group community, still serves as the elected labor commissioner. Last year he decided the time was right for him to move up, so he sought the office of secretary of state. In the election he was the only Democrat running statewide who was defeated. Perhaps Oregon voters felt a twinge of conscience.
Pending now before the U.S. Supreme Court is a similar case from Colorado, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Oral arguments have already been held and the court is expected to rule sometime this spring. Legal observers, after listening to the oral arguments, are predicting that Masterpiece will win the case but that ruling may or may not help the Kleins, since a very narrow ruling may leave them in the same position that they are in currently.
Time will tell. Watch out for those bigoted Christian bakers — they may find ultimate victory in Washington. Maybe.

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