Today, the Oregon Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments to determine if business owners should be allowed to discriminate against customers because of their own religious beliefs.
Four years ago, Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to sell Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer a wedding cake. After a lengthy review and hearing, an administrative law judge at the Bureau of Labor & Industries ruled that the Kleins discriminated against the couple and awarded damages.
The Kleins are appealing the case, which if successful, would carve out an exemption in the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, which protects LGBTQ Oregonians from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodation and more.
This year, we are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Oregon Equality Act, which remains one of the strongest, most comprehensive non-discrimination laws in the country for LGBTQ individuals. With the new Trump Administration, protections for LGBTQ individuals are more important than ever. Last week, the administration reversed protections for transgender students in schools. There have been reports of the administration issuing executive orders to create religious exemptions.
“Oregonians decided a decade ago that discriminating against someone because of who they are and who they love is wrong,” said Nancy Haque, Co-Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon. “We respect the rights of everyone to practice their faith, but this doesn’t give any of us license to discriminate. Oregonians can count on us to defend the Oregon Equality Act and the dignity and respect of everyone who calls this state home.”
“We also want to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer,” Haque added. “It took a great deal of courage to file this complaint and open their family up to horrific harassment by religious extremists. They have sacrificed their privacy and this case has hurt them financially. On behalf of the entire Basic Rights Oregon family, we want to extend our love and support to them.”
You can help the Bowman-Cryers by donating to this fund.