Oregon will oversee settlement process between Christian bakers, lesbian couple | Deseret News National
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Oregon will oversee settlement process between Christian bakers, lesbian couple

Since refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, protests by gay activists outside their Gresham, Ore., bakery forced Aaron and Melissa Klein to move the business into their home while the Christian couple awaited a ruling by state labor investigators.

The decision came down last week that the Kleins violated Oregon's anti-discrimination law and now the two parties must undergo a state-ordered "conciliation" process to reach a settlement.

If a settlement can't be reached, the state labor bureau may take charges before an administrative law judge, the Oregonian reported.

The Kleins say they are not backing away from their stance that they have a right to practice their religious beliefs, which prohibit them from serving a same-sex wedding, according to Fox News.

“Even though there are days that are hard and times of struggle we still feel that the Lord is in this," Melissa wrote on the bakery's Facebook page. "It is His fight and our situation is in His hands.”

Gay marriage is not legal in Oregon, but state law bans discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in jobs and in places of public accommodation, such as restaurants and bakeries.

Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman complained to the state last year that Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated state law by refusing to provide them with a wedding cake. The lesbian couple had been customers of the Kleins, who contend they have a right under the state constitution to refuse service if it violates their conscience.

Blogger Gary DeMar points out that Oregon's nondiscrimination law conflicts with the state constitution that declares: "No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.”

The New Civil Rights Movement website reported that Sweet Cakes wasn't the only business to feel the reverberations of the discrimination complaint. The LGBT community threatened to boycott any company that did business with Sweet Melissa.

"The power of the purse, combined with publicity and the threat that brings with it, has wonderful powers of motivation for business owners who don’t want to be known as anti-equality," wrote Jean Ann Esselink. "The LGBT community should remember the tactics used against Melissa’s Sweet Cakes when faced with the many other acts of blatant discrimination that are sure to throw up roadblocks as LGBT equality bumps along in fits and starts across America."

Similar discrimination disputes over serving same-sex marriages are happening around the country, according to Fox News, in Washington involving a florist, a photographer in New Mexico and another bakery in Colorado.

Email: mbrown@deseretnews.com Twitter: @deseretbrown