The US Supreme Court has vacated a ruling against Sweet Cakes By Melissa, an Oregon bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple.
In a decision on Monday (June 17), the Supreme Court declined to fully take up the case, which stems from a 2013 incident when anti-LGBT Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.
Supreme Court refers Sweet Cakes By Melissa case back to lower court
The court vacated the initial decision in favour of the lesbian couple, and referred the case back to lower courts for “further consideration,” in light of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling in favour of another discriminatory baker in 2018’s Masterpiece Cakeshop case.
The anti-LGBT evangelical law firm representing the Kleins, First Liberty celebrated the decision to vacate the ruling.
First Liberty president Kelly Shackelford said: “This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans.
“The Constitution protects speech, popular or not, from condemnation by the government.
“The message from the Court is clear, government hostility toward religious Americans will not be tolerated.”
Rachel Bowman-Cryer, one of the women who was denied service, said: “No one should ever experience what we went through when planning what should be one of life’s more joyous moments.
“To be called an ‘abomination’ because of who you are and who you love, and now always to be afraid that the next store we go into will reject us with the same contempt and discrimination – that’s the legacy of our treatment by the Kleins.
“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court did not wrap this up once and for all, but we are hopeful that courts that understood how stigmatising that illegal treatment is and how it harmed our entire family will reconfirm their earlier decision.”
Jennifer C Pizer of pro-LGBT law firm Lambda Legal said: “It is very disappointing that the US Supreme Court did not simply deny the discriminating baker’s request for more review.
“It is a longstanding legal rule that the freedom of religion is not a license for businesses to discriminate, and this is one more case about a wedding cake in which an anti-gay business owner is trying to use religious beliefs to excuse denying commercial services to a lesbian couple.”
Pizer added: “”We are confident that now that the US Supreme Court has sent the case back to the state court for a second look, the Oregon court will again confirm that this discrimination case has been handled fairly and justly, precisely as Oregon law and the US Constitution require.”
Sweet Cakes By Melissa bakery shut down despite raking in thousands in donations
At a cake tasting session for a lesbian bride in 2013, the Kleins had rejected their order and allegedly cited a passage from Leviticus calling gay people ‘abominations’.
After a discrimination complaint was filed over the incident, the Kleins posted the women’s personal details on Facebook, leading to a years-long barrage of personal abuse against them.
The Kleins claim that their Christian beliefs prevent them from making cakes for gay weddings, despite making divorce celebration cakes and ‘gay cure’ cakes.
The Sweet Cakes By Melissa bakery shut down in 2016, despite raising hundreds of thousands in donations from evangelical Christian supporters.
They were initially fined $135,000 for violating Oregon’s anti-discrimination laws, but a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $460,000 for the Kleins.