By Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Not content with trampling freedom of religion, Oregon authorities have now turned to freedom of speech, issuing a gag order to the Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa forbidding them from speaking or writing about their Christian beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian upheld a preliminary finding that sentenced Aaron and Melissa Klein, the Christian bakers who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding, to a fine of $135,000 in emotional damages to the homosexual couple they denied service, but also added a new provision forbidding them to speak about their unwillingness to serve a gay marriage.
The couple had accused the Kleins of “mental rape,” adding that they had suffered a “loss of appetite” and “impaired digestion,” which remarkably led to “weight gain.”
Twisting the actual facts of the case, Avakian declared that the bakers had refused the couple service because they were lesbians, which is demonstrably false, since they happily served other homosexuals who were not seeking a gay wedding cake.
“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.”
The Oregon official imposed a gag order on the couple, mandating that they “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.
“The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries hereby orders [Aaron and Melissa Klein] to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” Avakian wrote.
The gag order was issued after the Kleins participated in an interview with Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. During the interview, Aaron said among other things, “This fight is not over. We will continue to stand strong.”
Indeed, the couple is not rolling over and playing dead.
“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” wrote the Kleins on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
The Kleins’ attorney Anna Harmon called the judgment a “shocking result which shows the state’s relentless campaign to punish Oregonians who live and work according to their faith.”
The Kleins have already been victims of harassment, including having the Sweet Cakes by Melissa car vandalized and broken into twice, and having photographers and florists sever ties with the company. This forced the couple to close the bakery in September 2013, eventually relocating to the couple’s home in Sandy.