Reduced penalty for Oregon bakers who refuse to serve a couple

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The state of Oregon has reduced financial penalties for a baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple nearly 10 years ago.

In line with a state appeals court ruling earlier this year, state labor commissioner Val Hoyle said Tuesday the Bureau of Labor and Industries is ordering Aaron Klein to pay $30,000 in damages instead of a $135,000 fine imposed in 2015, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer filed a lawsuit against Sweet Cakes by owners Melissa Melissa and Aaron Klein in 2013, claiming the bakery refused to bake them a wedding cake.

The Oregon Court of Appeals twice upheld a ruling by the state’s civil rights division that found an Oregon bakery unlawfully discriminated against the couple.

In January, the court found that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries failed to show religious neutrality in imposing the fine and sent the case back to the Civil Rights Division for review. reassess.

The damages were reversed in 2018, when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who had also been fined for refusing to serve a same-sex couple for religious reasons. The judges concluded that Colorado’s sanction showed bias against the baker’s religion. They ordered the Oregon Court of Appeals to reconsider the Sweet Cakes case.

Applying new standards set by the Supreme Court, Oregon appellate judges found reason to believe the harsh punishment demonstrated bias. While the court found that the state was entitled to penalize Klein for unlawful discrimination, it also found that the agency had “at least subtly” strayed from its legal obligation to be neutral with respect to Klein. his religion.

As a result, the Oregon Court of Appeals ordered the office, now headed by Hoyle, to reconsider the sentence.

“As instructed by the Court of Appeal, we have recalibrated the damages awarded to plaintiffs to fall squarely within the range of such awards in previous BOLI public accommodation cases, given the record set. in this matter,” Hoyle said in a statement Tuesday. “This sentence is based on the violation of the law, the record of the proceedings and is consistent with the history of the BOLI case.”

Hoyle’s order only awarded damages based on the decision to refuse service. It awards Rachel Bowman-Cryer $20,000 and his wife, Laurel Bowman-Cryer, $10,000 “for emotional, mental and physical suffering resulting from the denial of service.”

The Kleins left Oregon, and business records indicate they have reopened their business in Montana.

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