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In 2013, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer went to Sweet Cakes, a cake shop in Oregon, to order their wedding cake. The shop's owners, Aaron and Melissa Klein, refused to serve the Bowman-Cryers, and in 2015 the Oregon Bureau of Labor hit Sweet Cakes with a $135,000 fine. The Kleins decided to appeal the decision, and lost that case today when the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that the couple must pay the fine.
The Klein’s decision to turn away Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer violated the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, a law that makes it illegal for private businesses to discriminate against customers based on their sexuality or gender identity. The appeal upheld the Equality Act, and set an example for other discrimination cases in Oregon and elsewhere. “Without this ruling businesses could determine who they serve,” the couple told KPTY. “Granting a business like Sweet Cakes a right to turn away customers in violation of nondiscrimination laws would create a sweeping license to discriminate and have far-reaching, damaging consequences.”
There’s a similar case currently waiting to be heard by the Supreme Court. A Colorado baker turned away a gay couple from Massachusetts when they went to his shop looking for a wedding cake. Though the state court ruled in favor of the couple, the baker, Jack Phillips, appealed to the Supreme Court claiming that the decision violated his First Amendment rights. Phillips argued that he should be able to refuse service to customers on the grounds of religious objections. The outcome of this Supreme Court case could bolster or undermine the recent Oregon decision. Either way, the case is expected to set a precedent for LGBTQ discrimination in America.