credit: colorlines.com

credit: colorlines.com

LGBQTQWERTY cracktivists are all about diversity, tolerance, dignity and individual rights and integrity, unless, of course, you’re a Christian. Related is one of the most venerable axioms about individual rights, which asserts that one man’s rights cannot compel others to fulfill them.

My right to free speech does not compel the local newspaper to give me a full page to express that speech. My right to keep and bear arms does not compel my local gun store to provide me arms at no cost. Oh, but what about the 4th Amendment? That right compels nothing, except that the government, absent probable cause and in most cases, a warrant, leave me alone. In other words, the government is compelled to do nothing. Of course, government has powers, not rights.

How is it then that Christians exercising their First Amendment rights may be compelled to provide goods for gay weddings?

“Big Gay,” as Mark Steyn calls it, is not about equal rights and tolerance. It seeks not only to force others to think homosexuality to be normal, moral and universally accepted, it demands, at the point of government’s gun barrel, that all proclaim homosexuality to be normal, morally superior, and universally accepted. As part of the progressive movement, the point is the imposition of cultural values abhorrent to most Americans. Because they know Americans will resist them–and any brand of tyranny–they must enlist government to force compliance.

The first–and last–progressive argument against any that would oppose them is “shut up!” If they can’t get Christians to proclaim them magnificent, they can use government to make proclaiming them otherwise dangerous and ruinous. But because progressives are generally weaklings and cowards, government must do the dirty work of forcing those that will not acknowledge their intellectual and moral betters into line. In effect, Big Gay is working to establish an absolute right never to be confronted with people and ideas with which they might disagree, and an absolute right to have their way.

 

This brings us to a recent article–The Mental Rape And Sadness Of Wedding Cakes–about just such a situation in the People’s Republic Of Oregon. Todd Starnes, Fox News’ religion editor, has two stories. 

Aaron and Melissa Klein

Aaron and Melissa Klein

The owners of a mom and pop bakery have just learned there is a significant price to pay for following their religious beliefs.

Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, have been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple after they refused to bake them a wedding cake in 2013.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) awarded $60,000 to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for ‘emotional suffering.’

‘This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,’ the final order read. ‘It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.

As I noted in my original article on this case, that’s nonsense. The Kleins had, in fact, provided cakes for this couple in the past, which would, to rational people, tend to suggest that they had no problem with their sexual orientation. One of the fundamental precepts of Christianity is to love the sinner–that’s all of us–but abhor the sin. Keep in mind that this incident occurred before the Supreme Court recently discovered a right to gay marriage hiding in the Constitution. Therefore, the legal issue was Oregon law legalizing gay marriage vs. the First Amendment rights of the Kleins. Oregon bureaucrats chose gay marriage over the Constitution.

According to the BOLI, the lesbian couple suffered great angst. One of the women ‘felt depressed and questioned whether there was something inherently wrong with the sexual orientation she was born with.’ They said she had ‘difficulty controlling her emotions and cried a lot.’

The other woman ‘experienced extreme anger, outrage, embarrassment, exhaustion, frustration, intense sorrow and shame’ simply because the Kleins refused to provide them with a wedding cake.

Apparently these delicate flowers have never had to function in the real world. The complete list of their complaints is so lengthy and ridiculous that about the only thing missing is “hangnails.” One shudders with horror at the emotional battering they would endure if they were faced with genuine adversity like a jammed printer, a leaking faucet, a clogged toilet, or a burned out light bulb. Cowgirl up ladies, and buy a cake elsewhere–but that’s not the point, is it?

They are, however, making my point for me. Because these women are of a sexual orientation different from the norm, they are going to have to deal with the disapproval of others. Obviously, they, and Oregon’s bureaucrats, are determined to force the rest of society to think and say nothing they might find upsetting. They wish to establish a state-mandate illusion that their lifestyle is normal and universally accepted, lest they suffer from self-imposed bad feelings.

More from Oregon’s decision:

Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society’ the ruling states. ‘The ability to enter public places, to shop and dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.

Uh, I’m confused. Because the Kleins didn’t want to make a wedding cake for them, they were denied “deceny,” and the “freedom to fully participate in society?” There is, in this case, no showing at all that they could not enter the Klein’s shop–which, thanks to them, no longer exists–that they were prevented from shopping and dining, or in any way prevented from “moving about.” Their previous patronage of the shop belies all of this.

The State is choosing to construct, out of thin air, the legal assumption that anyone that choose not to do as gay or lesbian couples demand must prima facie be bigots. The Kleins erred in refusing to proclaim the women normal, moral and universally accepted. Anyone doing the same is a bigot and will be subject to the loss of their business, and their home–and more:

Since the day they turned away the lesbian couple’s business, the Kleins have suffered greatly. [Their income has been cut in half.] Their business was subjected to boycotts and pickets. LGBT activists and their supporters threatened any wedding vendor that did business with Sweet Cakes By Melissa.

Mrs. Klein told me her five children were subjected to death threats — death threats for simply refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding…

Eventually, the bullying became so severe the family had to shut down their retail store and Mr. Klein had to take a job picking up garbage. Today, Mrs. Klein continues to make cakes in her home.’

‘We were just running our business the best we could – following the Lord’s example,’ she said. ‘I’m just blown away by the ruling. They are punishing us for not participating in the wedding.

There has been a new development in the case: 

Two Christian bakers who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding have been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages by July 13 or else the state of Oregon could place a lien on their home. [skip]

The BOLI ruling ordered the mom-and-pop bakers to pay $135,000 to the lesbian couple. They were also slapped with a gag order that prohibits them from speaking publicly about their refusal to participate in or bake wedding cakes for same-sex unions.

And now – they have until July 13 to pay the damages or else face additional fines and a possible lien on their home.

‘This is intimidation and bullying – that’s exactly what it is,’ Klein told me in a telephone interview. ‘They are trying to strong-arm me into handing over $135,000 to the two girls and if I win on appeal – they will never pay me back.

Some sources have reported that the Kleins that more than that sum has been donated to them, however, having lost their business, they need that money for mere survival and attorney’s fees. How many of you, gentle readers, could cough up $135,000 on the spur of the moment–or at all?

A BOLI spokesman confirmed they sent a standard payment letter to the Kleins’ attorney.

‘The letter informs them that if we do not hear from them, we may turn the matter over to the Department of Revenue, which can place a lien on real property,’ the spokesman told me.

BOLI said they would also be willing to accept either a full payment or payment arrangements.

Awwww! Isn’t that Christian of them?

Of course, they can also ask for a stay of enforcement while they pursue their appeal,’ the spokesman said.

But there’s a catch. The person who will determine whether or not to stay the order — is BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian — a vocal supporter of the LGBTQIA movement.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 8.25.58 PM

Regular reader nivico, in response to my original article, wrote (in part):

For what it’s worth, the case was actually decided back in April by an administrative court judge.

Avakian’s role in the matter as Labor Commissioner is little more than the boss signing the check. It’s been a while since I read up on administrative law, but if I remember correctly Avakian is essentially bound by the same limitations as an appeals court. By that I mean he doesn’t have the authority to overturn the court’s findings on matters of fact, only matters of law.

That said, there is no doubt that Avakian has considerable power and discretion in this case, but is choosing to prefer a non-existent right to force others to participate in a gay wedding ceremony over the Klein’s unquestionable and unalienable First Amendment right to practice and live their faith.

Anna

Anna Harmon

The judge, jury and executioner are all in one place,’ said Anna Harmon, the Kleins’ attorney. ‘He is intent on using his office to root out thought and speech with which he personally disagrees.’

Harmon, who is affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom, said they were expecting the payment letter that came from BOLI.

‘This letter, while it’s the normal procedure, continues to show the state is not backing down,’ she told me. ‘They don’t think they did anything wrong here.

The Kleins are appealing the decision. Mr. Klein said:

Kleins

I will fight them with every last breath I have.

And Mrs. Klein said:

He definitely messed with the wrong Christians.

They’re not alone.

I sent a link to my first article to BOLI, and will do the same with this, promising to print their response in full. It will surprise no one, I suspect, to learn that I haven’t heard from Avakian or his spokesmen. After “shut up,” people like them generally don’t have much to say.

Whether any gay or lesbian couple is married is of no concern to me. Finding love and avoiding loneliness in this fallen world is a wonderful thing, but we need not harm others and their families in the pursuit of love. That’s rather more like intolerance and hatred.

Some have suggested that Avakian really didn’t try to impose prior restraint on the Kleins’ speech. For additional information about Avakian’s obvious bias against the Kleins and Christianity, and the reality of his gag order, go here for an enlightening–and infuriating–article by attorney Hans von Spakovsky. Be sure to view the embedded video of the Kleins, in which Aaron Kline says:

I think we can live peaceably together without forcing our will on somebody else.

Amen.

Unless the Kleins are Academy Award quality actors, they are obviously kind, sincere, decent people. Those persecuting them–not so much.  I’ll continue to report on this case as developments warrant.

UPDATE, 071115, 1115 CST: Reader nivico writes (in part):

Apparently the Kleins retaliated against the couple for filing a complaint against their business by publishing their names and addresses on their Facebook page.

The damages awarded the couple were for intentional infliction of emotional distress for the resulting harassment the couple received.

I observed in response that even if this were so, the Kleins were also exercising First Amendment rights in publishing the names of and facts about the people and agencies working hard to destroy their lives and family. Such complaints are not top secret, but are information accessible by the public. Any attempt to punish the Kleins for that would surely violate the First Amendment.

Eugene Volokh agrees: 

I don’t think that’s right. It’s true that the agency sought to hold the bakery owners liable for publicizing the complaint against them. But the Commissioner expressly rejected this theory of liability…

Volokh provides a passage from the decision that would seem to, as he suggested, reject this as a rationale for the decision. He further commented:

Now I think the Agency’s theory, presented in its capacity as essentially as the civil case equivalent of a prosecutor, is outrageous: People have a First Amendment right to publicize the complaints against them, including the names of the complainants, notwithstanding the possible bad publicity for the complainants (just as complainants have to be free to publicize the names of the people they are complaining about). And while it’s possible that rules requiring the redaction of the complainants’ home addresses might be constitutional (but see p. 1115 of this article), I know of no such requirement under Oregon law.

But, in any event, the Commissioner didn’t buy the Agency’s theory, unless there’s something about the decision that I’m missing.

What Volokh might be missing is in his assumption that Avakian is acting in good faith. A bureaucrat determined to harm a citizen in any way possible could easily claim, in writing–an official document–not to be considering a theory or taking a given action, but his motivation could easily be, in part or full, the very theory or action he disavows. Perhaps Avakian is smart enough to cover his tracks. After all, the lesbian couple’s claims of “emotional distress” are, when not laughable, pathetic. It’s hard to imagine any rational court would uphold an award for people making such claims, thus requiring Avakian to uphold their claim by any means necessary for the good of the cause.

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