Christian bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein had to close down their business, Sweet Cakes, after the government fined them $135,000 in damages for declining to bake a homosexual custom “wedding” cake and issued a gag order to stop them from talking about their beliefs.
The Oregon legislature passed a law that amounts to forced speech. Businesses can’t refuse services based on a customer’s “sexual orientation.”
As the couple’s legal counsel First Liberty Institute pointed out, the Kleins were penalized for refusing to create a government-approved message and ordered to keep quiet about their faith, clear free speech and religious liberty violations.
While the Klein’s lost their case and their business, another Christian baker, Jack Phillips, triumphed at the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision handed down in June, the court ruled the the Colorado Civil Rights Commission discriminated against Phillips.
In light of Phillips’s victory, the Kleins appealed to the high court on Monday. From First Liberty Institute:
The petition asks the Court to reverse the State of Oregon’s decision that forced Aaron and Melissa out of business by penalizing them $135,000 for refusing to create a government-approved message.
A copy of the petition can be found here.
“Freedom of speech has always included the freedom not to speak the government’s message,” said Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of First Liberty. “This case can clarify whether speech is truly free if it is government mandated.”
Ambassador C. Boyden Gray, of Boyden Gray & Associates, who is also a First Liberty network attorney, said, “Free Americans should not be compelled by the government to create a message that conflicts with their deepest convictions.”
If the Supreme Court had ruled in Phillips’s case that the Constitution protects all religious business owners, and the government may not penalize them for refusing to provide services that violate their religious or moral convictions, there’d be less gray area. But for now Christians, especially, must continue to demand that the government recognize their fundamental First Amendment rights.