You might recall the story of Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of an Oregon bakery that made national headlines last year after turning away a pair of lesbian brides-to-be.
KATU reported in February 2013 that the Oregon Attorney General’s civil enforcement office received a complaint in January of that year and was investigating allegations that Sweet Cakes owner Aaron Klein violated the law when he told the couple that he couldn’t sell them a cake because “they were abominations to the Lord.”
The woman filing the complaint alleged that “she had previously bought a cake from Sweet Cakes for her mother’s wedding” and everything was fine “but when her partner went back for their wedding cake on Jan. 17, the owner refused.”
When asked by a KATU reporter about the incident, Aaron Klein admitted on camera that he did deny her service.
I apologized for wasting their time and said we don’t do same-sex marriages. I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, (it’s) just something I believe in very strongly.
By January of 2014 the investigation was concluded and on the 17th the “Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Gresham bakery violated the civil rights of a same-sex couple when it denied them service on Jan.17, 2013,” as reported by KATU.
Speaking at the conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C., Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein told The Daily Signal that such a fine would “definitely” be enough to bankrupt the couple and their five children.
Gay rights activist Matt Stolhandske, a board member of Evangelicals for Marriage Equality and a contributor to The Purple Elephant, reported for The Washington Post last week that “As a gay man, I should hate Melissa and Aaron Klein.”
I’m also an evangelical Christian. I can’t understand why Klein or any other Christians twist the words of Jesus Christ to justify this behavior. To me, it’s a deeply harmful and embarrassing bastardization of our faith.
But I don’t hate the Kleins. In fact, I’m raising money to cover the $150,000 punitive fine they received from Oregon.
According to his Rally.org listing, the Kleins “face a punitive fine of $150,000 or more from the state of Oregon, which she [Melissa Klein] says would bankrupt their family.”
The listing goes on to state:
We strongly disapprove of the Kleins’ discriminatory act towards the women who simply requested a cake for their reception, but we are raising money to demonstrate to the Kleins what love looks like in the face of discrimination. We want to begin a conversation with the Kleins and Christians around the country. We want to ask them to begin to use the posture of Jesus Christ as it pertains to the civil rights of gay Americans.
Stolhandske offers an incredible summation in his article for The Washington Post, writing that “I hope the Kleins will accept this sign of good will. After all, they must see that our goals here are the same – to live our lives as we see fit and be treated equally under the law,” adding that “Already I can hear the shouts from progressive and gay friends:”
“You’re an apologist for homophobes,” they tell me. “How can you reward this anti-gay behavior? Who next will they choose not to serve? African Americans? Single mothers? Muslims? We cannot support this.” To them I say: this is what an olive branch looks like. I am not rewarding their behavior, but rather loving them in spite of it. It is time for these two communities, which both cite genuine love as our motivation, to put aside our prejudices and put down our pitchforks to clear the path for progress.