Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries

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Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
Court Oregon Court of Appeals
Full case name Melissa Elaine Klein, dba Sweet Cakes by Melissa, and Aaron Wayne Klein, dba Sweetcakes by Melissa v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
Decided December 28, 2017 (2017-12-28)
Citation(s) 289 Or. App. 507 (2017)
Case history
Prior action(s) In re Klein, dba Sweetcakes by Melissa, BOLI Final Order, Nos. 44-14 & 44-15 (July 2, 2015)
Appealed from Administrative adjudication by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries
Court membership
Judges sitting DeVore, Presiding Judge, and Judges Garrett and James
Case opinions
Decision by Garrett

Klein, dba Sweet Cakes by Melissa, v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries was a legal case against a cake shop in Gresham, Oregon, in the United States. The cake shop gained widespread press attention in January 2013 when it turned away customers who wanted cakes for a same-sex wedding, who then made a complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claiming their civil rights under the Oregon Equality Act had been infringed.[1][2][3]

Case history[edit]

On January 17, 2013, a woman and her mother went to a Gresham, Oregon bakery called "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" (owned by couple Melissa Elaine Klein and Aaron Wayne Klein) for a scheduled wedding cake tasting appointment. The woman selected the bakery after having been a customer previously. During the tasting and discussion of cake designs, Aaron Klein asked for the names of the "bride and groom," at which point the customer said there were actually two brides. On hearing this, Klein informed them that the bakery does not make wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of their religious beliefs. When the woman's mother tried to object, Klein responded by quoting Leviticus 18:22, which refers to male homosexual sex as an "abomination."[4]

The customer subsequently filed a complaint with Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries, alleging the bakery had discriminated against her and her fiancée because of their sexual orientation.[5] Aaron Klein responded by posting a copy of the complaint's first page on their Facebook page, which contained the full names and contact information of the customer and her fiancée.[4] When the couple discovered this, they had their lawyer contact Klein, who then removed the posting. While only up for a single day, this posting ultimately resulted in death threats against the couple and their family.[4]

On February 1, 2013, news media became aware of the case despite the couple's efforts to avoid public attention.[4] A few weeks after, a demonstration occurred outside the bakery criticizing their refusal to make the cake, though it was organized by individuals with no association with the original couple, and the couple did not attend it.[4] After receiving extensive criticism on Facebook and in the news, the Kleins closed their storefront in September 2013, switching to operating the business from their home.[6][7]

In April 2015, an administrative court made a preliminary decision to fine the business $135,000.[8] The Kleins in turn opened a GoFundMe page, “Support Sweet Cakes by Melissa”, which raised over $100,000 before it was shut down by GoFundMe, who stated that the campaign was not compatible with their terms of service.[9] In a statement, GoFundMe confirmed that the funds raised before the appeal was shut down would still be available for withdrawal.[9]

The administrative court's decision was confirmed in a final order by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries in July 2015.[10][11] The final text of the order reads as follows:

Respondents Aaron Klein and Melissa Klein to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published, circulated, issued or displayed, any communication, notice, advertisement or sign of any kind to the effect that any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, services or privileges of a place of public accommodation will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination will be made against, any person on account of sexual orientation.[4]

The cease and desist order has been widely described as a gag order, and has brought national attention to this case on first amendment free speech grounds.[12]

The Kleins stated that they would contest the Bureau's decision.[13] However after appealing for 6 months, Aaron Klein paid the final order with interest, though still stating he would continue to appeal the order on free speech grounds.[14] In December 2017, an appeals court upheld the amount of the penalty, as well as making a determination that the original decision did not violate the Kleins' freedom of speech, as it simply "requires their compliance with a neutral law."[15]

In March 2018, the Kleins filed an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court.[16] In June 2018, the Oregon State Supreme Court refused to hear the case, giving no explanation. The Klein's are expected to file an appeal in the United States Supreme Court.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rede, George (April 24, 2015). "Same-Sex Couple in Sweet Cakes Controversy Should Receive $135,000, Hearings Officer Says". OregonLive. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  2. ^ Roth, Sara (February 3, 2015). "Bakery Risks Large Fine for Anti-Gay Discrimination". USA Today. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Same-Sex Couple Files Formal Civil Rights Complaint with BOLI Against Gresham Bakery" (PDF). Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. August 14, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries- Findings of Fact
  5. ^ "Lesbian couple refused wedding cake files state discrimination complaint". OregonLive.com. Retrieved 2018-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Gresham Cake Bakery That Refused Service to Gays Has Closed". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2018-01-26. 
    Kopta, Chelsea (September 2, 2013). "Sweet Cakes owners respond to firestorm over wedding cake decision". Portland, OR: KATU-TV. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  7. ^ Wong, Curtis M. (October 1, 2014). "Sweet Cakes by Melissa's Owners Say Fine for Rejecting Lesbian Couple Will Leave Them Bankrupt". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  8. ^ DuBois, Steven (April 24, 2015). "Judge to Sweet Cakes: Pay $135K to lesbian couple". KOIN. Retrieved 2018-01-26. 
  9. ^ a b Beck, Byron (April 25, 2015). "'Support Sweet Cakes by Melissa' GoFundMe Page Violates Terms". GoLocalPDX. Retrieved April 25, 2015. 
  10. ^ Richardson, Valerie (July 2, 2015). "Sweet Cakes by Melissa Owners Owe $135,000 in Damages for Gay Wedding Refusal". The Washington Times. 
  11. ^ Rede, George (July 8, 2015). "Gag Order or Cease and Desist? National Media Feud over Sweet Cakes". OregonLive. Retrieved December 28, 2017. 
  12. ^ Rede, George (July 8, 2015). "Gag order or cease and desist? National media feud over Sweet Cakes". The Oregonian. Retrieved June 8, 2018. 
  13. ^ Muskal, Michael (July 4, 2015). "Bakery Ordered to Pay $135,000 for Denying Wedding Cake to Lesbian Couple". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Oregon Bakery that Rejected Lesbian Couple Pays Fine After All". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. December 28, 2015. 
    "Oregon Bakery Owners Pay More than $135G in Damages over Refusal to Make Cake for Gay Wedding". Fox News. December 29, 2015. 
    "Sweet Cakes Owners Pay Damages While Continuing Appeal of $135,000 Bias Case". The Oregonian. December 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ Friedman, Gordon R. (December 28, 2017). "Appeals Court Upholds Fine Against Christian Bakers Who Refused to Make Same-Sex Wedding Cake". OregonLive. Retrieved December 29, 2017. 
  16. ^ McNiel, Lacy (March 2, 2018). "First Liberty Institute Files Appeal at Oregon Supreme Court In Sweet Cakes by Melissa Case". GlobeNewswire. Retrieved May 9, 2018. 
  17. ^ Green, Aimee (June 22, 2018). "Oregon Supreme Court won't hear Sweet Cakes by Melissa's appeal". Oregonian. Retrieved June 23, 2018. 

External links[edit]

  • [1] Final Decision by Administrative Law Judge, Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries

Coordinates: 45°30′14″N 122°25′48″W / 45.5040°N 122.4301°W / 45.5040; -122.4301