Christian Bakers Challenge Oregon State's Gay Wedding Cake Ruling, $135K Fine Before Appeals Court

Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, are contesting the ruling made by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which found them guilty of discrimination and ordered them to pay a fine of 5,000.(First Liberty Institute)

These Christian bakers were simply trying to point out to a same-sex couple that they can't have their cake and it, too.

However, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries found Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, guilty of discrimination and ordered them to pay a hefty fine of $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer-Bowman and Laurel Bowman-Cryer in 2013.

The Kleins are not about to take this challenge to their Christian faith sitting down. On Thursday last week, they brought their case before the Oregon Court of Appeals, the Washington Times reported.

The couple said they simply want the freedom to practice their faith.

"We just want the government to tolerate and accept differences of opinion, so we can continue to follow our faith," Mrs. Klein said at a press conference following a hearing. "We hope that, even if people have different beliefs from us, that they will show each other tolerance and that we can peacefully live together and still follow our faith. That's all we want."

Attorneys from the First Liberty Institute, which is representing the Kleins, argued before the court that the state of Oregon violated their clients' constitutional rights to freedom of speech, religious exercise and due process.

"The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs," Kelly Shackelford, president of First Liberty Institute, said in a statement.

Brad Avakian, the Oregon Bureau of Labor commissioner, said he ruled against the Christian bakers because under Oregon law, it is illegal for businesses to refuse service on the basis of sexual orientation.

He also ordered them to pay a fine of $135,000 for the alleged mental and emotional damages they caused the lesbian couple.

However, the ruling apparently did not help Avakian in his bid to advance his political career as he lost to a Republican rival during the election for Oregon Secretary of State, CNN reported.

The Kleins' case became a national issue as the couple became the target of die-hard LGBT sympathisers who started harassing and threatening them. They were eventually forced to close down their store in 2013. The couple now run the bakery out of their house.

To be able to support their five children, Mr. Klein was even forced to take a job as a garbage collector, according to the Washington Times.

"We lost everything we loved and worked so hard to build," Mrs. Klein said. "I loved my shop — it meant everything to me. And losing it has been so hard for me and my family. Nobody in this country should ever have to go through what we've experienced."