The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday passed
on hearing a case involving an Oregon bakery found guilty of
discriminating against a lesbian couple.
Justices sent the case back to an
Oregon appeals court and asked it to reconsider the case in light of
a similar high court ruling involving a Colorado baker. In that case,
the high court said that the state showed hostility toward the
baker's religious beliefs.
Last year, the Oregon Supreme Court
refused to review a lower court's ruling upholding a decision by the
Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that found Aaron and Melissa
Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, guilty of
unlawfully discriminating against the couple when they refused to
make a cake for the women's commitment ceremony. The agency imposed a
$135,000 fine on the Kleins.
Aaron Klein declined to make the cake
for the women on January 17, 2013. Klein said he does not hate gays
but that making a cake for a same-sex wedding would violate his
faith. (At the time, Oregon had the nation's most robust domestic
partnership law. Following a federal judge's ruling in May, 2014,
Oregon became the 18th state to allow gay and lesbian
couples to marry.)
The Kleins are represented by the
Texas-based law firm First Liberty, which describes itself as “a
national religious freedom law firm.”
The firm called Monday's decision a
“victory … for religious liberty for all Americans.”
“The message from the court is clear,
government hostility toward religious Americans will not be
tolerated,” Kelly Shackelford, CEO and chief counsel at First
Liberty, said in a statement.
The Supreme Court issued a similar
ruling in a case involving a Washington state florist who refused to
serve a gay male couple, sending the case back to the Washington
Supreme Court for reconsideration. In that case, the
state's highest court upheld its decision against the florist.