Christian bakers file appeal to Oregon Supreme Court to challenge $135K fine over refusal to make same-sex wedding cake

(YouTube/First Liberty)Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, appear in a screen capture of a video from First Liberty.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa, have filed an appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court to challenge the state's imposition of a $135,000 fine for their refusal to make a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013.

First Liberty Institute, which is representing the Kleins in court, has filed an appeal on Thursday asking the high court to overturn a decision by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that resulted in a fine of $135,000, forcing the Christian couple to shut down their family-owned bakery.

"Aaron and Melissa Klein are entitled to the Constitution's promises of religious liberty and free expression," Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, said after filing the appeal.

"As Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy said during recent oral arguments on a similar case, 'Tolerance is essential in a free society, and tolerance is most meaningful when it's mutual.' Freedom of expression for ourselves should require freedom of expression for others," he added.

The complaint against the Kleins was filed in 2013 after the bakers declined to make a cake for the same-sex wedding of Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer citing their religious beliefs.

In July 2015, BOLI ruled in favor of the lesbian couple and ordered the Kleins to pay them damages, resulting in the closure of the bakery.

The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the decision by BOLI in December, with Judge Chris Garrett arguing that people opposed to interracial marriages could also ask for exemptions if the court grants an exemption for making wedding cakes for same-sex ceremonies due to the bakers' sincere religious objections.

"The Kleins do not offer a principled basis for limiting their requested exemption in the manner that they propose, except to argue that there are 'decent and honorable' reasons, grounded in religious faith, for opposing same-sex marriage," the judge wrote in his opinion, according to The Christian Post.

"That is not in dispute. But neither the sincerity, nor the religious basis, nor the historical pedigree of a particular belief has been held to give a special license for discrimination," he added.

The appeals court had reversed a decision that declared that the Kleins were guilty of violating a state law by expressing their intent to discriminate against gay couples in the future.

Melissa Klein had stated during a press conference earlier that she had served the lesbian couple before they ordered a cake for their same-sex wedding. She noted that she would love to serve them again, but she said that she only wanted to have the right not to take part in a same-sex wedding to honor her faith.

The Kleins, who are now selling their baked goods online, have reportedly been subjected to harassment, including hate mail and death threats, since the controversy erupted.

Melissa Klein had previously stated that she would like to open up another storefront bakery in the future, but she believes that it would impossible to do so in Oregon.

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