The owners of an Oregon bakery must pay $135,000 in damages for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, a state official ruled on Thursday.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian agreed with a preliminary ruling that Sweet Cakes by Melissa illegally discriminated against a Portland couple in 2013 by turning down their request based on their sexual orientation, The Oregonian reported.
A judge had ordered owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Crye and another $60,000 to her wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
The Kleins had argued it was against their Christians beliefs to participate in a same-sex marriage. Supporters raised money for them earlier this year after an administrative law judge imposed the penalty.
The Bowman-Cryers, through their attorney Paul Thompson, said in a statement they were glad Avakian sent "a clear message that discrimination will simply not be tolerated in our state."
"This has been a terrible ordeal for our entire family. We never imagined finding ourselves caught up in a fight for social justice," they said.
"We endured daily, hateful attacks on social media, received death threats and feared for our family's safety, yet our goal remained steadfast. We were determined to ensure that this kind of blatant discrimination never happened to another couple, another family, another Oregonian," the statement continued. "Everyone deserves to be treated as an equal member of society."
An email to HuffPost, the bakery said the decision was wrong, adding, "Americans should tolerate diverse opinions, not use the government to punish fellow citizens with different views. This case has become a poster for an overpowered elected official using his position to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees."
The owners vowed in a Facebook post to appeal the decision:
"The final ruling has been made today. We have been charged with $135,000 in emotional damages, But also now Aaron has been charged with advertising. (Basically talking about not wanting to participate in a same-sex wedding) This effectively strips us of all our first amendment rights. According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced. We stand for God's truth, God's word and freedom for ALL americans. We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight.
The Sweet Cakes website features quotations from Biblical passages, such as, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" from the book of Proverbs. It also explicitly states the bakery is interested in baking for weddings between a man and a woman.
"We here at Sweet Cakes strongly believe that when a man and woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives," the homepage said. "We feel truely [sic] honored when we are chosen to do the cake for your special day."