Two years after being denied service for a wedding cake, Portland couple Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer have been awarded $135,000 in emotional damage.
Judge Alan McCullough ordered Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a bakery run by Melissa Klein and her husband Aaron, to pay $75,000 to Rachel and $60,000 to her wife after the company refused to bake the couple a wedding cake.
In January 2013, Rachel and her mother spoke to Aaron about creating a wedding cake. When told there was no groom, he said the bakery didn’t make cakes for same-sex weddings. Rachel and her mother left, though returned later. Rachel stayed in the car while her mother spoke to Aaron again. She said she once thought like him, but “truth had changed” when she had two gay children. He responded with a quote from Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is abomination.”
McCullough ruled the couple was discriminated against that January, but the bakers cited religious beliefs. Friday, the judge ordered the money be paid to the couple in a 110-page ruling.
After the final decision, a GoFundMe page was created for the bakery and raised over $100,000. According to the bakery’s Facebook page, the money would not come from the business but “would have to be paid from money that should be going to pay for food and housing for us and our five children.”
The fundraiser was shut down the next day.
“The campaign entitled ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’ involved formal charges,” GoFundMe told CNNMoney. “As such, our team has determined that it was in violation of GoFundMe’s terms and conditions.”
GoFundMe is reportedly giving them the money raised, but it will not continue to raise more.
After the website was shut down, Sweet Cakes by Melissa’s Facebook page said, “Satan’s really at work, but I know our God has a plan and wins in the end!”
Oregon started to protect the rights of the LGBT community in 2007, with the exemption of religious organizations. However, the state does not allow for private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation.
The Klein’s attorney, Anna Harmon, said the couple was denied the cake before same-sex marriage was legal in the state.
“This is a shocking result which shows the state’s relentless campaign to punish Oregonians who live and work according to their faith,” she said. “Aaron and Melissa have worked hard for what they have. They are living on the fruits of American entrepreneurship. Now the state of Oregon, though an administrative agency, has ordered that all they worked for should be taken away simply because they declined to participate in an event which violated their religious beliefs.”
A new fundraising page was set up on the Samaritan’s Purse website, a nonprofit Christian organization, though it’s not clear how much has been raised.