GRESHAM, Ore. — The Oregon baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple says he’s seen “a huge influx” of customers and that he’ll fight a state complaint that could mean a $50,000 fine.
“I’m not trying to say that I’m putting my thumb in the face of the law,” Aaron Klein told KGW. “I agree that there are laws for a reason, but I also believe that we should have religious freedom in this country.”
Laurel Bowman filed the consumer complaint last month, writing that Klein denied service and called the couple “abominations unto the Lord.”
Klein, who along with his wife owns the Gresham bakery “Sweet Cakes By Melissa,” denied calling the couple “abominations.” Klein said he bakes cakes for gay people, but not for same-sex weddings.
Klein said his stance has led to hate mail and online criticism, but also plenty of support. At the bakery this week, customer Teresa Nowlin said she made the 35-mile drive from Scappoose to support the bakery. Another customer, Josephine Myron, of Portland, also sided with the Kleins.
“Go buy a cake somewhere else,” Myron said. “Why come after these people?”
Bowman wrote in her complaint that the couple initially chose to have their cake made by Sweet Cakes because they bought a wedding cake there years earlier without incident. That cake, however, wasn’t for a same-sex marriage.
State law says it is a violation for a business to deny “full and equal accommodations” for customers based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other factors.
The state attorney general’s office is investigating. If cause is found, it can file a discrimination complaint with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Brad Avakian, the bureau commissioner, told KGW that declining to make the cake “likely could be” against the Oregon law.
“Regardless of one’s religious belief, if you open up a store, and you open it up to the public to sell goods, you cannot discriminate in Oregon under our civil rights laws,” he said.
Klein said he won’t back down.
“It’s a situation where I just have to stand up for what is right, and if the fine comes, the fine comes. And I’ll deal with that when it happens,” he said.
Bowman and her fiancee, who are not doing interviews, released a statement Tuesday saying they’re humbled by the support they have received.
Celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman offered to make the couple a wedding cake for free, a Tigard company has offered free DJ services and Equality Southwest Washington’s Wedding Expo offered to marry the couple free of charge.