When Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman from Portland, Oregon were denied a wedding cake at the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery due to the owner's own religious beliefs, the couple filed a state complaint against the bakery citing discrimination based on the couple's sexual orientation. Now almost a year later, according to a report by Oregon Live on Jan. 17, state labor investigators have determined that the bakery did indeed violate the civil rights of the couple.
In a case that made national headlines, the Bureau of Labor and Industries wrapped up its investigation into the bakery and found evidence that the bakery violated the Oregon law that bans discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in jobs and in places that serve the public.
The controversy did spark debate over religious freedom as Melissia Klein, who turned down the couple, turned down the request because same-sex marriage went against their Christian faith. But it wasn't just being turned down that caused tears for the couple, it was the reported treatment of the bakery owners which they in returned denied at that time.
According to the couple, it was Aaron Klein's comment, calling the couple "abominations unto the Lord" and other comments that made the couple feel unwelcomed and discriminated against. Their complaint led Duff Goldman, star of "Ace of Cakes" on the Food Network to make a cake for the couple. But in light of the national attention, both Cryer and Bowman find the investigation findings bittersweet.
The state will oversee a conciliation process between the couple and the Klein's to see if the two sides can come to a settlement. The Klein's, however, state they will maintain their original stance of religious freedom, especially in a state that itself, does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Once again, civil rights has served victory over religious freedom.