On Thursday, Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa, were ordered to pay $135,000 to a lesbian couple for refusing to bake a wedding cake. They were also essentially stripped of their First Amendment rights with a gag order that prohibits them from discussing how their Christian beliefs shapes their views on gay marriage.
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian wrote. In short, the Kleins were ordered to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for gay weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
“This effectively strips us of all our first amendment rights,” they said on Facebook. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech. We will NOT give up this fight, and we will NOT be silenced. We stand for God’s truth, God’s word and freedom for ALL americans. We are here to obey God not man, and we will not conform to this world. If we were to lose everything it would be totally worth it for our Lord who gave his one and only son, Jesus, for us! God will win this fight!”
The order came about after an interview with the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. “This fight is not over,” Aaron told Perkins. “We will continue to stand strong.”
The order prompted Twitchy to call Avakian the state’s “acting Minister of Thoughtcrime.” The order prompted outrage on Twitter.
“This should not happen in a free country,” said Bill Kristol. “‘No, gay marriage won’t be used as a weapon against churches,’ say the people who want to shut down a bakery for refusing to bake a cake,” added Jim Treacher.
“How can you be told that you can’t speak out!?” one person asked. “Time for a new court battle!” Others posted a link to an online fundraising effort to help the Kleins.
“Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for religous freedom; which they are not just fighting for themselves but for all of us as our freedoms are threatened,” a page at Continue to Give says. “They are pioneers in standing strong for the Lord and have been very courageous and steadfast throughout this whole ordeal.”
Anna Harmon, a lawyer representing the Kleins, was shocked at Avakian’s order. According to Harmon, the commissioner has been “outspoken” about his intent to “rehabilitate” those who do not conform to the state’s beliefs.
“Now he has ruled that the Kleins’ simple statement of personal resolve to be true to their faith is unlawful,” she said. “This is a brazen attack on every American’s right to freely speak and imposes government orthodoxy on those who do not agree with government sanctioned ideas.”
“This order is an outrageous abuse of the rights of the Kleins to freely practice their religion under the First Amendment,” added Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation. “It is exactly this kind of oppressive persecution by government officials that led the pilgrims to America. And Commissioner Avakian’s order that the Kleins stop speaking about this case is even more outrageous—and also a fundamental violation of their right to free speech under the First Amendment.”
“For years, we’ve heard same-sex marriage will not affect anybody,” Klein told The Blaze. “I’m here firsthand to tell everyone in America that it has already impacted people. Christians, get ready to take a stand. Get ready for civil disobedience.”