The latest on the wedding cake beat: The state of Oregon has formally ruled that a bakery in Gresham discriminated against a gay couple who wanted to purchase a wedding cake. The state's Bureau of Labor and Industries could fine the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed its doors and become a home bakery in response to the controversy, up to $150,000.
We won't know exactly how much the state will actually require the baker to pay the gay couple until a hearing in March. A look at some recent final orders at the Bureau of Labor and Industries has them ordering a convenience store to pay a woman $60,000 for refusing to let her shop there with her service dogs in tow. That was the only recent public accommodations decision. In the bureau's interim order against Sweet Cakes, they note:
"Public accommodations complaints under the Equality Act are rare. In every year since the law's passage, public accommodations complaints based on sexual orientation and gender identity have represented less than one percent of all discrimination complaints received by the agency."
That is to say, there's very little evidence that public accommodations discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is (or ever has been) a widespread concern that has impacted people to a degree to justify this level of state intervention.
But on the plus side for Sweet Cakes owners, the agency's prosecutors failed in their attempt to bring charges against them because they "unlawfully communicated a future intention to discriminate based on sexual orientation" in subsequent media interviews. The bureau ruled against the prosecutor on this one charge. So the couple who owns the bakery will not be fined even further just for saying that they do not agree with the law and will not comply. How charitable of the bureau.