Aaron and Melissa Klein owned and operated a family bakery, “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” in Gresham, Oregon. In 2013, a woman asked Aaron and Melissa to make a custom-designed cake for her same-sex wedding. As devout Christians, Aaron and Melissa believed that crafting a message to celebrate the wedding would violate their faith, so they declined to create a custom wedding cake.  Every cake Aaron and Melissa made in their bakery was custom designed.

In response, the State of Oregon targeted the religious speech of the Kleins: It forced Aaron and Melissa out of business by penalizing them $135,000 for refusing to create a government-approved message and then issued a gag order, preventing them from even talking about their actual beliefs.  Aaron and Melissa appealed the ruling from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to the Oregon Court of Appeals in April 2016. The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the decision of BOLI, though it reversed the gag order.  On October 19, 2018, First Liberty Institute and Boyden Gray & Associates filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court has long protected the right to differ. Recently, in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Court only reminded the state that government officials cannot be hostile to the free exercise of the religious beliefs of its citizens.  In this case, the Court has the opportunity to resolve the most critical issue the Masterpiece Court left unresolved: whether the government can compel citizens to create a message contrary to their religious beliefs.

Attorneys General from several states, and several other organizations including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, filed a “friend-of-the-court” brief urging the Supreme Court of the United States to hear arguments in the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein.  States on the Attorneys General brief include Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia.”

Photo Credit: Sunira Moses (CC-By-SA 3.0)

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