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Oregon bakers forced to pay $135,000 after sharing lesbian couple’s home address

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The anti-LGBT owners of an Oregon bakery were not fined simply for refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple – they were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for causing their would-be customers emotional distress.

The case has attracted widespread media attention since the couple first filed their complaint in January 2013, and that is largely through the efforts of Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

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After the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries handed down the order last week, Aaron Klein claimed the ruling was an example of the “persecution of Christians” in the U.S.

However, the ruling shows the bakery owners had made Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer the victims of persecution and makes clear the payment was compensation for damages and not a fine or civil penalty, reported the blog Love, Joy and Feminism.

The agency found that the Kleins “brought the case to the media’s attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding” the couple who filed the complaint.

Read the entire ruling here

“It was foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact (the Bowman-Cryers), making (the Kleins) liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by (them),” the agency found.

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Commissioner Brad Avakian eventually rejected the agency’s theory of liability related to the media attention in his final ruling, but he upheld its recommendation on damages and ordered the Kleins to pay “$60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for emotional suffering” that resulted from the unlawful denial of service.

The blog explains that the bakery owners shared the couple’s personal contact information – which led to death threats that nearly caused them to lose custody of their foster children.

Laurel Bowman-Cryer filed the complaint in January 2013, after she and her mother had met with Aaron Klein – who refused them service and quoted an anti-LGBT verse from Leviticus.

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She filed her complaint by smartphone, which prevented her from seeing a disclaimer notifying her that her full name and address would be sent to the bakery owners – and Aaron Klein shared that information, along with the complaint, on his personal Facebook page.

Conservative media and anti-LGBT organizations such as the Family Research Council promoted the Kleins as victims of religious discrimination.

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Rachel Bowman-Cryer said she and her wife received a steady stream of threats that continued as the Kleins promoted their side of the case in national media appearances.

She testified that state adoption officials told them they were responsible for keeping their two foster daughters safe from those threats, and they feared they could lose custody of the girls — whom they have since adopted.

In its final order, issued last week, the labor bureau found the Kleins had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws – but the damages awarded were not a “gay fascism tax,” as some commenters argued.

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They violated state law, the commissioner found, and that unlawful action caused real harm to their victims.

“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society,” the commissioner ruled. “The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a significant error that resulted from failure to distinguish the difference between the agency’s recommendation and the commissioner’s final ruling. The bakers were not, as previously reported, punished for threats by others against the couple, as the agency had recommended. They were ordered by the commissioner to pay damages to the couple for emotional harm caused by their unlawful discrimination. We regret the error, and we would like to thank Eugene Volokh for clarifying the distinction.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump doubles down after being confronted with his claim Biden wants an ‘invasion’ of suburbs

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At Wednesday's press conference, President Donald Trump was confronted with his claim that former Vice President Joe Biden would trigger an "invasion" of suburban neighborhoods — widely considered to be a racist dog whistle for affordable housing that will attract more people of color.

“What do you mean by invasion?” the reporter asked.

“They’re going to open up areas of your neighborhoods — they’re going to destroy suburbia,” insisted Trump. He added that "by the way, 30 percent of the people in suburbia are minorities," evidently on the defensive from claims that he was appealing to racism.

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Newsweek attacked after editorial column starts a new birther conspiracy about Kamala Harris

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Newsweek is being attacked after they ran an opinion column by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University. "Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility," was the headline.

The opening of the story already speculates that Harris is somehow ineligible for the position because she's also somehow ineligible to be president.

"The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position," said the Chapman University professor. "The 12th Amendment provides that 'no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.' And Article II of the Constitution specifies that '[n]o person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the office of President.' Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen'—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president."

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Trump calls funding for the Post Office ‘political’ — and holds up COVID-19 stimulus to stop it

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At Wednesday's White House press briefing, President Donald Trump launched into yet another attack on mail-in voting — and explicitly made it clear he'll hold up COVID-19 stimulus to prevent funding for the Postal Service.

Funding USPS, Trump complained, would be "political" — and he claimed that Democrats are the ones "holding up" the negotiations because "how are they gonna do it if they don't have the money to do it?" He reiterated that he believes the use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, a practice that has been in use for decades, "will be one of the greatest frauds in American history."

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