Written by Don Byrd
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case posed the question of whether Colorado’s requirement that the owner of a cake design shop provide services to a couple celebrating their same-sex marriage violates his religious liberty rights. Instead of settling that highly charged issue, however, the court’s decision emphasized statements made by state commissioners to determine that the agency exhibited religious animus toward the cakeshop owner and ruled in his favor on that basis.
It seemed clear at the time that the court will ultimately have to rule on the underlying question. And as the LATimes reports, at least one case already presents that opportunity as soon as this week.
[Klein v. Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries] began in 2013 when Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer were preparing to marry. They had been together for nearly 10 years and were in the process of adopting two children with special needs. Rachel and her mother went to the Sweet Cakes shop. But when Aaron Klein learned the marriage would have two brides, he said they would not make a cake for them. In a later conversation with Rachel’s mother, he quoted a passage from the Book of Leviticus and its reference to “an abomination” that many religious conservatives read as a condemnation of homosexual conduct.
The two women filed a complaint with the state agency that enforces its anti-discrimination law. An administrative law judge held a hearing and awarded the two women $75,000 and $60,000 in compensation for their emotional suffering. The state commission and the state’s courts rejected appeals filed by the Kleins.
Today’s Supreme Court orders from last week’s conference did not include a decision on whether to take up the Kleins’ appeal. The Petition has been re-listed for the justices’ conference later this week. For more, see my earlier post on the Oregon Appeals Court decision in the case.