In Oregon, Aaron and Melissa Klein and their five children are losing their home due to bankruptcy. Their business, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, is going under.
Black, white, Asian, male, female, gay, and straight couples have all bought cakes from Mr. and Mrs. Klein over the years. This past year, the Kleins were asked to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. They declined because they are Christians. Despite having gays and lesbians support the bakery, Oregon has ordered the Kleins to pay the lesbian couple $150,000.00 for discriminating against them. The Kleins do not have the money and are filing bankruptcy.
In a unanimous vote of the District of Columbia Council in December, businesses in Washington, D.C., including private, religious schools, must no longer make distinctions based on sexual orientation. Catholic Schools, which allow gay men and women to teach, but not marry, are beginning conversations about what to do, including closing schools. Other religious groups are doing the same.
Robert N. Spencer Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop has served gay and straight customers equally for years. But when a gay couple insisted Spencer bake them a wedding cake, Spencer offered an already made wedding cake that the couple could further customize. Based on his religious convictions, he did not believe he could provide his God given talents for a specifically made cake for a gay wedding. A Colorado court has now ordered Spencer to do it or close his business.
In Richland, Washington, Baronelle Stutzman has owned Arlene’s Flowers for several decades. She has a large gay customer base. But when Mrs. Stutzman declined to provide flowers for a gay wedding of long time customers, she was sued and the state sided with the gay couple, putting her business in jeopardy.
In New Mexico, a state that has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), but whose legislature has ruled discrimination based on sexual orientation verboten even against RFRA, Elaine Huguenin got dragged to court by a gay couple for declining to do photography of a gay wedding. She lost her case too. In New York, the state ordered a couple to pay damages and to cease holding weddings on their farm. The couple opened up their farm for weddings and for parties of people regardless of the hosting couple’s sexual orientation. But they did not want to allow a gay wedding on their property.
In the last few months, opponents to statewide RFRA efforts have hit on a new talking point to denounce RFRA. The law would allow child abuse. In fact, they have documented several cases in Georgia, a state without RFRA, where people have claimed a religious exception regarding the treatment of their children.
But, and this is the key, not once have these opponents of RFRA shown successfully arguing for a religious exception to commit child abuse. The cases do not exist. Even in states with RFRA not a single person has been able to get away with child abuse based on a religious conviction. Here, however, I have documented real people who have been fined or driven to bankruptcy because their religious convictions conflict with gay marriage. And there are plenty more.
Gay rights advocates say a plurality of Americans support gay marriage so it should be so. An absolute majority of American support religious exceptions relating to providing goods and services to gay marriage. But gay rights advocates oppose that. The Supreme Court will undoubtedly impose gay marriage on the nation by June. State legislatures need to pass RFRA now to protect people of faith.