PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon attorney general’s office is investigating a Christian baker who declined to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Aaron Klein, owner of the Gresham, Ore., bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa, told The Oregonian newspaper he chose not to make the cake because he believes marriage is “a religious institution between a man and woman as stated in the Bible.”
“When someone tells me that their definition is something different, I strongly disagree. I don’t think I should be penalized for that.”
His business, which he co-owns with his wife, could face as much as $50,000 in fines if found guilty of violating the Oregon Equality Act. The law forbids businesses from denying “full and equal accommodations” for customers on the basis of sexual orientation and other protected categories.
Same-sex “marriage” is not recognized in the state, though domestic partnerships are.
The woman who filed the complaint against the bakery said Klein said she and her partner were “abominations to the Lord” and that their money was not equal to others. Klein denied making those statements.
“I apologized for wasting their time and said we don’t do same-sex marriages,” he told the ABC television affiliate KATU. “I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset,” he said.
The couple had previously bought a wedding cake at the store several years before for one of the women’s mothers and her husband.
Laura Bowman, whose partner filed the complaint, said her partner was “reduced to tears” when she heard the bakery would not bake the cake.
Klein said his bakery sells its pastries and cakes to all customers, but they turn down requests for cakes for same-sex ceremonies because of the owners’ beliefs.
The bakery has crosses on the walls and has the New Testament passage John 3:16 on its website.
The state attorney general’s office will not take action until it receives the business’ official account of the incident. The office could file a discrimination complaint with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries if it finds cause to do so.
State laws, increasing legal recognition for same-sex relationships and pressure from homosexual activists have created legal threats to businesses involved in the wedding industry and to organizations that host weddings.
A New Mexico Christian photographer who declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony for two women was fined nearly $7,000 and is taking the case to the state supreme court. A Methodist-associated retreat house in New Jersey is being sued under a state anti-discrimination law after it declined to host a same-sex civil union ceremony.
A cake shop in Lakewood, Colo., faced a petition and a boycott in July 2012 after its owner declined to create a cake for a same-sex male couple, also citing his Christian beliefs. He said the media controversy helped business at the bakery to double.