Civil Liberties

Bakery That Refused to Make Gay Wedding Cake Shuts Doors

Closure won't stop state investigation


Bake what you're told!
Credit: Forever88 |

Labor Day Weekend marked the end of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery in Gresham, Ore., that made national news in February for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. They've shut their storefront and are going to be moving the bakery in-home. Portland station KOIN visited the store location to verify Sunday:

A note on the shop's Gresham door Sunday said the following:

"This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong. Your Religious Freedom is becoming not Free anymore. This is ridiculous that we can not practice our faith. The LORD is good and we will continue to serve Him with all our heart. ?"

The bakery is under investigation by the state's Bureau of Labor and Industries to determine whether the shop's refusal to provide service violates the state's public accommodations non-discrimination laws, which include sexual orientation.

Other media reports make note of the bakery's Facebook page and various comments in support or opposition. Williamette Week has been reporting about the shop's closure and tracking its Facebook page. But the link provided to their page doesn't work and a search for Sweet Cakes by Melissa comes up empty on Facebook. Here's their Web page, which still lists a physical location for their shop.

Williamette Week also played gotcha with the bakery, getting them to give them quotes for cakes to celebrate unwed pregnant mothers, divorces, and human stem cell research, among other things. Presumably this is intended to mean that the bakery's owners, Melissa and Aaron Klein, were not consistent in applying their religious beliefs to their cake-baking practices. But the Kleins are under no obligation to anybody but themselves (and to whatever higher power they choose to answer to) to maintain any sort of particular consistency with their Christian beliefs. If, in fact, it turned out that the only thing in the entire Bible that the Kleins believed was that gay marriage is wrong, that's their right. Certainly their inconsistencies could make them subject to criticism, but the inconsistencies are not actually relevant to the concepts of freedom of conscience of freedom of association.

 The closing of the store does not affect the state's investigation of Sweet Cakes' refusal to provide a wedding cake for a gay marriage. KOIN has some very interesting information about the number of discrimination claims under the 2007 law in Oregon that added sexual orientation to its list of forbidden reasons to deny customers service:

Since 2007, Oregonians have filed 11 complaints of unlawful discrimination in public places under the 2007 equality law. BOLI found no substantial evidence in five of those complaints but parties negotiated settlements in three other cases, including one this past week where a bar was fined $400K for keeping transgenders away.

So in five years there have been 11 complaints, five of which were not substantiated. This is not a sign of a widespread issue of public accommodations discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In August, I wrote about New Mexico's ruling that obligated photographers to accept gigs to shoot gay weddings, regardless of what their beliefs told them. I suggested then that perhaps it's time to reconsider the idea of what counts as a "public accommodation" and also questioned whether we actually even need the government to resolve all cases of business bigotry.