Klein dba Sweetcakes by Melissa v. Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industry

Find Your State

Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.

Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Oregon Supreme Court to deny a petition from the former owners of a bakery seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that they violated Oregon’s anti-discrimination law in 2013 when they refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple because they claimed it was against their religion.

Read more

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, accompanied by Rachel’s mother, had visited Joel and Melissa Kleins’ bakery while planning their wedding.  They wanted to order a “Pink Princess” cake just like the one Rachel’s mother had ordered for her second marriage not long before.  But Joel Klein refused to discuss the order, stating that the business does not make cakes for same-sex couples for religious reasons.  After the couple left the bakery in shock and distress, Rachel’s mother returned to push back at the refusal.  Klein told her he considers the women and their relationship “an abomination.” 

Rachel and Laurel filed a discrimination complaint with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries (BOLI), which found that the Kleins had discriminated against the couple in violation of Oregon law, and that the business owners’ rights of religious liberty and free speech do not excuse that violation of state law.  BOLI’s July 2, 2015, order imposed damages of $135,000 against the Kleins and their business.  The Kleins appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. 

Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief in that court on August 29, 2016 recommending that the court affirm BOLI’s judgment.  The brief discussed past precedents in which courts rejected similar demands for religious exemptions from laws barring discrimination based on race, sex or marital status.  It also surveyed the history and continuing problem of antigay discrimination in Oregon. We emphasized that the Kleins’ policy of rejecting same-sex couples violates Oregon law regardless of the Kleins’ religious or other personal motivations. 

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on December 28, 2017, affirming the judgment and damages award to Rachel and Laurel. The Kleins then asked the Oregon Supreme Court to review that decision, which Lambda Legal opposed with its March 15, 2018 friend-of-the-court brief.