Anti-Gay Oregon Bakers Still Crying Over Spilled Discrimination


Melissa Klein
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.


About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at his personal website. He additionally guest contributes at Blue Nation Review. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms


Fox's Ben Carson: AP History Curriculum Would Make "Most People ... Ready To Go Sign Up For ISIS"



You have to wonder if Carson has read an actual AP History curriculum. Having taken the course myself in high school (and acing the test that imbues college credit thereafter), I can assure anyone with confidence I had no inclinations to join a religious extremist group - ISIS, Christian Taliban or otherwise. Perhaps the latter is the problem though - truly accurate and helpful AP History courses highlight the role of religion throughout history without proselytizing. 

From the Center for Security Policy's National Security Action Summit on September 29 courtesy of Media Matters:



Getting REALLY Tired of This: Employer Imposition of Religion

By Sheila Kennedy

[Originally published at SheilaKennedy.net on September 29,2014]

Talking Points Memo reports: 
One month ago, the Obama administration tweaked its birth control mandate to address concerns of religious nonprofits who said filling out a form to opt out of paying for contraceptives would still make them complicit in sin. 
Since then, various entities that sued have made clear they aren’t satisfied with the new accommodation, and will keep fighting for a complete exemption so that they can block off insurance coverage for contraceptives, which they view as sin, for their women employees. 
Can someone explain to me just when it was that we gave employers the right to direct the moral/spiritual lives of their employees? Just when did workers exchange not just their labor but their right to personal autonomy for a paycheck? 

In what twisted definition of “religious liberty” do we find “the right to trump the personal/religious decisions of those who may work for you?” 
Ave Maria University filed a motion in a federal trial court in Florida earlier this month declaring the new rule to be unsatisfactory and sought an injunction before it takes effect on Nov. 1. The filing said that even though it no longer has to inform its insurer or third party administrator of its intentions, it remains opposed to notifying the administration of its desire to opt out because that would trigger a process by which the government requires insurers to pay for the contraception coverage, should the employee desire it. 
Leave aside the sexism (I’ve seen no evidence that these “religious” folks are worked up about Viagra coverage). Leave aside the ignorance (birth control is often prescribed for conditions totally unrelated to conception). What drives me up the wall is the unbelievable arrogance–the entitlement mentality that leads these members of the American Taliban to believe they have the right to make the most intimate decisions for other people while at the very same time rejecting any intrusion–no matter how minimal–on their own right to self-determination. 

What twisted mental process convinces someone that he is a victim because he isn’t allowed to dictate the behavior of others? 

I am SO over these people!



Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana's ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI's Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at www.sheilakennedy.net. For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..

Indiana Gov. Pence Plays Shell Game with Domestic Violence Funding


[Originally published at Indy Vanguard on September 25, 2014]

Since Indiana’s Governor Pence repeatedly highlights his pro-life beliefs and priority to the family unit, it’s understandable his 12 appointees to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) would be addressing the rise in domestic violence along with the rest of the country. Calls to shelters in Indiana have increased dramatically: one shelter has turned away 79 individuals in the past three months. In 2013, 58 people were murdered in Domestic Violence incidents; various Indiana DV agencies and over 60,000 called crisis lines served over 30,000 individuals.

So Monday morning’s tweet by Governor Pence was taken as good news by most media and the rest of the world: 



Except it’s all spin… or bull. And media outlets are headlining this “extra” funding.

Yet as posted by Indy Feminists: 



The catalyst came last week when the ICJI announced they were withholding $1.2 million of the amount approved by the General Assembly for Domestic Violence programs. David Hall of the ICJI wants more “appropriate reporting”. Advocates were outraged and Pence announced via twitter that he wasn’t withholding funds.

Not accurate. In fact, the State already took back over $300,000 approved for programs from last year to save money. Yes—the same year when over 600 people were turned away from residential shelters due to no room. Fiscal conservative, pro-family Pence saved some money by taking it away from domestic violence victims and their families. Appropriate reporting would entail revealing why that money was taken back. To date the ICJI has no answer and is looking in to it.

Also, the ICJI’s claim that the submitted budget from DV agencies isn’t adequate is insulting. Many of these agencies received grant funding using the same budgets that have been scrutinized and approved by the state and the grantors. What else is needed?

Looking at Domestic Violence – it is driven by misplacement of emotions – power, fear, anger, etc. Politics also invokes this misuse of emotions. Victims hear the words of support and promises from the Governor and his appointed board, but actions speak louder and slam doors in their faces. So Pence’s promise of new money pouring in sounds good. But this promise is as insidious as the ones perpetrators give when rationalizing their actions; Pence has managed to shift the focus back to him.

Truth is there are no added funds or new money immediately available. The $740,426 of “additional” funds includes the $344,000 never allocated last year and mysteriously returned, along with another $448,000 of already allocated funding.

The General Assembly approved the $4.2 million, which is an increase to match a need. Then the ICJI board (comprised of mostly Pence appointees) decides not to release the funds. Then the Governor overrules them and wants the money expedited. And they give back the reverted funds without an explanation as to why it was taken away to begin with.

So in essence, the Governor is letting the General Assembly do their job, minus the input of a board of his appointees. But he wants the credit.

And that is nothing new–just like this “new” money.


Rev. Marie Siroky is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving as a Chaplain in Northwest Indiana. As a former nun who taught in the inner-city of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Marie self defines as having a "Catholic Spine" and is fiercely protective of religious freedoms for all as well as addressing injustice in every form. (including Cubs fans). She is past president of the Interfaith Coalition on Nondiscrimination (ICON), a multi-faith organization of faith communities and leaders advocating for LGBT equality and justice in Indiana for over 15 years. She currently serves on the Advisory board for Indy Feminists, and serves on the board of UCAN ( the United Church of Christ's HIV/AIDS network). She and her wife have been together over 23 years, married in Iowa in 2009, and are current members of Trinity United Church of Christ in her hometown of Gary, IN.

Follow Rev. Marie Siroky on Twitter: @GaryMillrat

Privilege & Entitlement: A Look at Philadelphia Gay Bashing Suspect Kathryn Knott


Privilege & Entitlement: A Look at Philadelphia Gay Bashing Suspect Kathryn Knott
Though most have heard about the brutal attack on two gay men in Philadelphia that transpired earlier this month, many haven’t learned much about the suspects indicted this week for the attack. Of the three suspects arrested, one in particular stands out as a shining example of privilege and entitlement: 24-year-old Kathryn Knott. The daughter of (Philadelphia-area) Chalfont Township Police Chief Karl Knott, Kathryn Knott serves as a living example of virtually every stereotypical child-of-privilege and law enforcement cliché including abuse of police power for personal gain.

After her arrest (with her two male accomplices), Knott’s past came to light fairly quickly since she leads an active and open social media life. Not only does her Twitter feed glorify binge drinking (and ejection from public spaces due to that drinking), it also contains evidence of xenophobic and homophobic behavior as well as potentially illegal behavior related to her X-Ray Technician work at a local hospital.

In a collection of tweets first aggregated by Memeograph’s Scott Wooledge, Knott’s sordid history reads more like a Ke$ha music video than of an upstanding respectable citizen that “couldn’t bust a grape” (her attorney’s words). Here are a handful of tweets from that collection demonstrating Knott’s personality and predilections (includes not safe for work language)...


About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at his personal website. He additionally guest contributes at Blue Nation Review. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms