By Tim Peacock
After closing their business and diving head first into the anti-gay industry, Sweet Cakes owners Melissa and Aaron Klein appeared at the Values Voter Summit over the weekend. During what she hoped appeared to be a heart-felt moment, Melissa spoke about her deep love of helping couples plan weddings and how special that day is - that is, unless it's a same sex wedding.
"For me personally," Klein said, "when I would sit down with them I just would want to know everything about her wedding." She continued, "I'd want to know about the flowers, her dress, the centerpieces, her colors, the way her hair is going to be. I would even want to talk about 'where are you going on your honeymoon?'"
Through tears, she proclaimed, "I would just feel so honored to be part of such an amazing, special day."
Except, she and her husband believe (because of their personal religious beliefs) that they should be exempted from Oregon state law stating that businesses open to the public must serve people equally regardless of a host of factors (including sexual orientation). Earlier this year the couple lost their case in court and had a fine assessed against their business for discriminating against a gay couple. They readily admitted they turned away the couple due to their sexual orientation (just as they had to many other LGBT couples).
Not long after the story of their discriminatory practices went national, Sweet Cakes' business plummeted due to boycotts and poor local sales - a modern free market consequence becoming more frequent in similar cases - and the Kleins decided to voluntarily close their business. They then went on (and continue to) claim they were 'forced' to close their business as if the government issued a cease and desist letter to force their closure (they didn't).
Speaking on the legal action taken against them for blatantly violating Oregon state law, Aaron Klein played the victim. "I mean quite frankly, they didn't just harass us, they harassed the other wedding vendors that we did business with. It cut off our referral system," he said. "We had to shut the shop down. Melissa does very limited cakes out of our house. I mean we're facing in excess of $150,000 of damages for this, just for simply standing by my first amendment rights."
Except that courts have consistently held that freedom of religion does not cover discrimination against minority groups in the public square (whether they be African Americans, disabled Americans or the LGBT community).
Klein continued stating the court decision was a "violation of my conscience, I mean it's a violation of my religious freedom."
"I mean it's horrible to see your own government doing this to you," he said.
Imagine the Christian outrage had they refused to serve African Americans or veterans based on their deeply-held religious beliefs. Would the Kleins still be headlining panels at major conservative conferences? Would major potential GOP presidential contenders still be propping them up as examples of true Christian faith?
After all, use of fervent religious belief to discriminate against other minorities in the public square isn't just theoretical - it's recent history.