Big cash bonanza for nasty Oregon bigots

Big cash bonanza for nasty Oregon bigots

An estimated $210,000 has been raised to cover damages that Aaron and Melissa Klein – former owners of Sweet Cakes bakery in Oregon – were ordered to pay to a lesbian couple who were refused a wedding cake back in 2013.

The amount far exceeds the $135,000 the couple have been ordered to pay. This, according to Christian commentators, is an extortionate punishment for a couple who did nothing other than to stick to their Christians principles.

According to one fund-raising appeal, the Kleins are:

Pioneers in standing strong for the Lord and have been very courageous and steadfast throughout this whole ordeal.

Rachel Cryer, right, and Laurel Bowman

Rachel Cryer, right, and Laurel Bowman

But the crybaby Kleins went a great deal further than simply denying the Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman a cake.

After a complaint was lodged by Cryer and Bowman with the Department of Justice and then with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), the Kleins – according to this in-depth analysis of the case – “doxxed” Cryer and Bowman by vindictively revealing their personal details online.

When Aaron Klein got wind of the complaint, he immediately published it on his Facebook page in full, with Laurel’s name and address included. This, in turn, sparked a sustained hate campaign, spearheaded by Christian zealots, against the two women

Rachel Bowman-Cryer disclosed that she and Laurel felt an even greater level of stress because they were the foster parents of two young girls and feared they might lose the children.

She said they had spoken to state adoption officials who told them it was the couple’s responsibility to protect the children and keep privileged information confidential, even as their own privacy was threatened by news coverage of the case.

Officials told the Bowman-Cryers that if they couldn’t protect the foster children in their home from the harassment that resulted from the Klein’s public posting of their home address, they could lose the children they were trying to adopt.

A week after the story hit the media, the Bowman-Cryers’ lawyer sent out a press release stating that the Bowman-Cryers would not be doing any interviews, and that they they only had need of the support of their local community.

The press release stated that any donations should go to Pride Northwest and asked everyone to respect their privacy. In other words, the Bowman-Cryers did everything they could not to involve the national media or national gay rights organisations. The Bowman-Cryers were not involved in local protest and boycott efforts.

In fact, the press released asked that even their names not be printed.

The BOLI Final Order awarded $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination. The amounts are damages related to the harm suffered by the complainants, not fines or civil penalties which are punitive in nature.

According to the Christian Post, although the Kleins’ fundraiser began with an initial goal of raising $150,000, but they have raised at least $210,000.

This money came from evangelist Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse and, a “faith based online tithing and giving platform founded on biblical principles” devoted to helping churches, missionaries, non-profits, individuals and adopting parents.

The latter fundraiser states:

Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for religious freedom; which they are not just fighting for themselves but for all of us as our freedoms are threatened.

They have been struggling financially ever since they were forced to close the doors of their bakery in 2013 as their income was basically cut in half.

If they are forced to pay the damages to the lesbian couple they will be in much worse shape than they are now.

Although they have raised money online, Aaron said he picked up a job as a garbage collector after the closing of the bakery to help make ends meet.

The Kleins are expected to appeal the damages award.

19 responses to “Big cash bonanza for nasty Oregon bigots”

  1. L.Long says:

    They have it wrong…it should be…
    Let’s help the Kleins through this hard time as they fight for the freedom to push their religious bigotry onto who ever they wish.
    I think the bigots that have businesses should be allowed to be bigoted but ONLY if the post large signs that state ….
    “We do not serve XXXX here!!
    As we are raging bigots!!!!”
    And that includes the bigot doctors/hospitals that wont do abortions.

  2. Angela_K says:

    The Kleins were well aware what would happen when posting the couples names and address on Facebook and most certainly did so to provoke a hate campaign. The damage award is just that, compensation for stirring up hatred against a couple.

  3. .Korgu says:

    What would happen if owners of a cake shop refused to serve christians. Or muslims.

  4. barriejohn says:

    God has “blessed them”, and “honoured their faithfulness”. Christians always say this when they have engineered what they themselves want. When did you last hear of one of them praying about something and waiting for the divine response? I even heard it said that “God” doesn’t expect you to pray and then do nothing; he expects you to do what you can to help yourself as well. Where do they get it all from? Of course, as with wars, disease and natural disasters, when it all goes pear-shaped that’s the result of “satanic forces”. Give me strength!

  5. Ex Patriot says:

    There are a lot of brain dead xians in the U.S, to send these sorry bigots money. I personally hope he falls into the garbage truck he works on as that is where he belongs

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    I live in Oregon. I am an atheist. I have written for The Freethinker and comment here regularly. I get a hat tip for referring stories here nearly weekly.

    To me, free thought is the ability to say ‘no’ to any sacred idol without punishment from the state or threats of violence. People and their purchasing power may object,even cruelly, and that is the cost of free thought. Anyone donating or witholding money, that is their business.

    The Kleins always served gay and lesbian clients, refusing only this weding. Public documents are public documents, and court records are public documents. I have followed the case thoroughly and not until this article at the Freethinker have I seen the names and photos of the lesbian couple. The Kleins are forbidden by the courts to say they will decline to bake a cake for a same sex wedding. A ruling I am glad they violate.

    I wish happiness to all those who take up the difficult responsibilities of marriage. I do not hold same sex marriage as a sacred idol, so fragile it cannot be spoken of, so precious no one can refuse any role in it the couple assigns them. I dont want new gods, i want no gods.

    All those who made threats of violence are in the wrong. The state is in the wrong for what they have done to the Kleins.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: Some of what you say appears to be at variance with what we have been told above, so I cannot comment on that, but as far as the discrimination is concerned I am afraid that I cannot agree with you. I know where you are coming from, but should schools be free to exclude gay students or those of certain races? Should hospitals be free to refuse treatment to gays, blacks, those who have had abortions, and so on? Individuals should be free to hold whatever views they like, and, in my opinion, to express those views, but the state must stand for the fact that all men are equal, and a standard needs to be set and maintained in that regard.

  8. Cali Ron says:

    Searched for a while, but managed to find this article written in Oregon and it spells out some facts missed by major media in all the hype.

    According to the article the $135,000 is not a final amount. They have appealed and the case is far from over. It will be curious to see what happens if the fine is greatly reduced or eliminated. Do you think they will give the money back? The whole religious persecution angle is joke. Making a cake is not “participating” in the marriage. By that logic the flower supplier, the janitor, the maker of the dresses and tux’s, the shoe polisher, the hairdresser, etc. could all refuse service on religious grounds. Absurd!

    Trevor: So you are OK with businesses refusing service to someone based on sexual orientation? How is this any different than a restaurant refusing to serve a black man? I’m troubled by the size of the fine, but it almost will certainly be changed.

    America, where my right to own a gun is so sacred noone dares to deny me or face the wrath of the powerful NRA, but a cake can be refused because of my sexual orientation. Last I checked none has died from a wedding cake.

  9. Vanity Unfair says:
    They might be just agents provocateurs but equally it might be an extension of the principle.

  10. John the Drunkard says:

    The ‘sincere’ religious bigotry runs into problems very quickly. Do they make cakes for weddings involving a divorced member? Would they bake a cake for Newt Gingrich or Ronald Reagan? Do they require proof of virginity from the bride? Will they bake for a couple that might have sex without intending pregnancy? etc. etc. etc.

    If a baker refuses to bake a cake with a Confederate flag, or an ISIS banner as decoration, can we make a clear line for where the ‘right to refuse service’ ends and hypocritical bigotry begins?

  11. Trevor Blake says:

    The Kleins have been told a lien may be put on their homes as soon as next week. They can pay the fine (with no legal recourse to get it back should they win their appeal) or they can lose their home. Meanwhile the gag order placed on the Kleins remains in effect: they cannot speak legally of their religion.

    Barriejohn aske me: “should schools be free to exclude gay students or those of certain races? Should hospitals be free to refuse treatment to gays, blacks, those who have had abortions, and so on? ” For what it’s worth, I’d prefer tax-funded schools and tax-funded hospitals be accessible to all. For what it’s worth, I suggest if a private school or a private hospital wishes to discriminate, that’s their private business.

    Cali Ron wrote: “So you are OK with businesses refusing service to someone based on sexual orientation? How is this any different than a restaurant refusing to serve a black man?” For what it’s worth, I prefer that tax-funded businesses and tax-funded restaurants be accessible to all. For what it’s worth, I suggest if a private business or a private restaurant wishes to discriminate, that’s their private business.

    For me, free thought means an understanding others are free to think and act very, very different and antagonistic to how I think and act. The same live and let live freedom I’d hope to see same sex couples have is the same live and let live freedom I’d hope to see a Christian bakery have. ” It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on Virginia” (1782).

    I am appreciative that my ideas are challenged at The Freethinker instead of the simple way out of attacking me as a person. I may be wrong in every respect, and I welcome arguments that show me how I can become less wrong. It is also not possible to sufficiently stress how little influence or importance my opinions have: thanks to all who asked, but no one should get overly worked up about them.

    “To determine the true rulers of any society, all you must do is ask yourself this question: Who is it that I am not permitted to criticize?” – A man I’d be the first to criticize, who nonetheless said something true and useful in this case.

  12. barriejohn says:

    For what it’s worth, I’d prefer tax-funded schools and tax-funded hospitals be accessible to all. For what it’s worth, I suggest if a private school or a private hospital wishes to discriminate, that’s their private business.

    Absolutely not. We are in complete disagreement over this one. State intervention may be clumsy at times, but putting down markers says: “Our hearts are in the right place and we want a better society”, and great strides have been taken in equality in my lifetime regarding race, gender, sexuality, disability, and so on, and the fact that laws have been passed in these areas has undoubtedly influenced public opinion. It has said: “We are not going to let the bullies and bigots have their own way; their thinking and behaviour are not just inappropriate and backward, they are WRONG.” There is a lot of debate in Britain at the moment regarding these issues, with the publication of Harper Lee’s sequel to “Mocking Bird”, and we obviously still have a long way to go in really changing attitudes, but from what I have seen the younger generation do think differently, on the whole, to people of my generation, thank Christ.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Cali Ron: Thanks for that link.

    Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian nonprofit founded by Franklin Graham, eldest son of the Rev. Billy Graham, stepped into the void Saturday, announcing it would accept donations on behalf of the Kleins.

    On Monday, the organization issued this statement:

    “The fund was created to help persecuted Christians in the U.S., including Aaron and Melissa Klein. It was only activated over the weekend and the organization has not yet announced any numbers. Currently, Samaritan’s Purse is focused on the earthquake in Nepal and providing relief supplies to people impacted by the disaster.”

    Well, well, well, wh’oda guessed it? I was going to say “Is that even legal” (charities having taxpayer-funded support, of course), but they are “helping persecuted Christians”. If I wanted a lawyer I think I’d always choose a Christian one, because they are right up there with the greats when it comes to bending rules, twisting the truth and finding loopholes!

  14. Stuart H. says:

    It might amuse people to know that Samaritan’s Purse pulled a trick in reverse last seen in offshore jurisdictions in the 1980’s.
    Back then it was a common sight to see dodgy foreign politicians step off a plane in Isle of Man or Channel Isles with a suitcase full of cash to deposit in local banks. 15 years ago SP unsuccessfully tried to set up an offshore branch of their operation, but no offshore professional would touch them. The former local SP organiser asked to set up the offshore charity told me that a few years ago she was asked to take a plane to the UK with the Operation Christmas Child money, in cash, to hand over at an English group’s HQ and bank with English donations. This, apparently, as SP’s US parent are so desperate not to have donations from OCC appear with a traceable offshore bank account number. The joke is, people here are so wise to SP’s cons that the cash donations were less than the plane ticket cost.
    Nothing illegal done, I should stress. Just spectacularly stupid.

  15. barriejohn says:

    Not so clever, then, Stuart. Like most Christians, deceitful beyond belief, but they always call this being “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”!

  16. Cali Ron says:

    Trevor: I appreciate your response and want to note that I asked the questions to better understand your position and to evaluate my own. I’m always open to consider new information or viewpoints. Your thoughtful response and lack of vitriol is noted and returned in kind.

    The couple is not in eminent danger of losing their home. Liens are used by contractors, courts and other businesses to secure payment of a debt (I’ll do X dollars worth of work for you and when you pay the lien is lifted, or you don’t pay and the lien is used to recover payment). In this case the lien will be in effect until the case is adjudicated and they have had time to pay fines, if any are still due. I agree the gag order seems to be judicial overreach.

    I’m troubled by the government having to force a business to treat people equally. In an ideal world everyone would “do the right thing”, but it’s human nature to be flawed. On the other hand if all evangelicals, or worse, all christians decided to refuse service to any particular group of people it would be unacceptable because it would be tyranny of the majority against a minority. I’m a live and let live person (as long as you are not infringing on someone else’s rights), but in this case the christians are the ones not letting them “live” by imposing a litmus test of sexual orientation to them only. Do they question all their other customers as to any lifestyles that are contrary to their religious beliefs or only gay people? In no way is making a cake participating in the wedding ceremony or forcing them to accept an offending lifestyle. Sometimes the government, which represents all people needs to step in and protect some of those people from abuse by others. Taken to it’s extreme the alternative would be anarchy.

  17. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”! Wise as serpents indeed, but not so harmless as doves. More like sheep in wolves clothing.

  18. dennis says:

    Trevor I have enjoyed your posts here and I enjoyed this one because of (live and let live.) I am a white man married to a beautiful black woman in the great and glorious state of TEXAS and have felt the pain of bigotry and abuse. my interracial marriage is in plan view for every one to see and comment on by sneers or that’s neat smiles (yes we were getting neat smiles till Ferguson happen.)
    I believe the easy way to fix our difference here is an entrepreneur opens a business that business is secular and lives only on the bottom line of profit. your patrons should understand that your business is secular and does not comment on your personnel beliefs and as a entrepreneur you leave your personnel beliefs out side the door to your business. Texans have lived this way sense the civil rights days.