Supreme Court Vacates Ruling Against Anti-LGBTQ Bakers in “Religious Freedom” Case

The Supreme Court has vacated a ruling against an Oregon bakery that refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple, reported PinkNews.

The Court declined to take up the case on Monday (June 17), which dealt with a 2013 incident when Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding.

The Klein’s rejected the couple’s order, allegedly citing a passage from the Bible that called gay people “abominations;” the couple claimed their Christian beliefs prevented them from making cakes celebrating gay weddings. However, they had made divorce celebration cakes.

A discrimination complaint was filed against the Kleins, the bakery was shut down in 2016, and the couple were fined $135,000 for violation of the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

The court vacated the lower decision which favored the lesbian couple and referred the case to the lower courts for “further consideration.”

“This is a victory for Aaron and Melissa Klein and for religious liberty for all Americans,” said Kelly Shackelford, the president of the evangelical law firm representing the Kleins, First Liberty. “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.”

Jennifer C. Pizer of pro-LGBTQ law firm Lambda Legal expressed disappointment with the court’s decision.

“It is very disappointing that the US Supreme Court did not simply deny the discriminating baker’s request for more review,” Pizer said. “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.”

Rachel Bowman-Cryer, one of the women who was denied service by the bakery, recalled the feeling of being discriminated against.

“No one should ever experienced what we went through when planning what should be one of life’s most joyous moments,” she said. “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 stigmatizing that illegal treatment is and how it harmed our entire family will reconfirm their earlier decision.”