Kleins | Cases | First Liberty

Case History

Aaron and Melissa Klein fulfilled their dream of opening a family bakery, called “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” in 2007.

“When we opened the shop we thought it would be a great way to provide for our children,” Aaron said.

For Melissa, the bakery was an opportunity to express her creativity. “When I bake a cake, it becomes my canvas,” she said. “I love getting to pour myself into cakes to create something unique and special for every customer who comes to us.”

Melissa dreamed that her children would be able to take over the shop one day—but that dream was shattered only a few years later.

In January 2013, a woman came to the bakery and requested a wedding cake for her same-sex wedding. The woman was a return customer, who had previously ordered a cake for another event. She had such a positive experience at Sweet Cakes that she wanted Melissa to make her wedding cake.

Aaron Klein explained that by making a wedding cake, they would be endorsing something that violated their religious beliefs, which is something they could not do.

Punished for Religious Beliefs

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), a state administrative agency, sued the Kleins for engaging in discrimination, evenutally finding them guilty and ordering Aaron and Melissa to pay a $135,000 penalty.

In addition to the financial penalty from the state, the Kleins endured hate mail, harassment, and threats of violence.  Business declined, and in September 2013, they were forced to close their bakery.

First Liberty Institute Legal Action 

First Liberty Institute, along with Ambassador Boyden Gray (former White House Counsel for President George H.W. Bush, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, and law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren), filed a brief with the Oregon Court of Appeals on behalf of the Kleins in April of 2016, arguing that BOLI Commissioner Brad Avakian and the State of Oregon violated the Kleins’ rights to free speech, religious freedom, and due process. Read a summary of the arguments made in the brief.

Late in 2017, the court issued its opinion upholding the decision of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) imposing the $135,000 penalty against the Kleins.  Read the decision here.

In its recent Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion, a matter very similar to Aaron and Melissa’s, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that the government must be neutral toward, and respectful of, the religious beliefs of its citizens, even if those beliefs are not popular. Just after that opinion was released, however, the Oregon Supreme Court denied to review the decision of the Oregon Court of Appeals.

But the Kleins deserve the same protection from a hostile government given Jack Phillips by the Supreme Court in its Masterpiece decision.

“No one in America should be forced by the government to choose between their faith and their livelihood. But that’s exactly what happened to our clients, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO for First Liberty Institute.

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release: June 21, 2018

Contact: Lacey McNiel, lmcniel@firstliberty.org

Cell: 972-989-2403, Direct: 972-941-4444

Oregon Supreme Court Denies Review of Sweetcakes by Melissa Case

Aaron and Melissa Klein will appeal case to U.S. Supreme Court


Salem, Ore. –Today, the Oregon Supreme Court denied review in the case of Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweetcakes by Melissa. The following statement in response to the court’s decision may be attributed to Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO for First Liberty Institute:

No one in America should be forced by the government to choose between their faith and their livelihood. But that’s exactly what happened to our clients, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

No one in America should be forced by the government to choose between their faith and their livelihood. But that’s exactly what happened to our clients, bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein. We look forward to making our case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Read more about the Kleins’ case at KleinFacts.com.

About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel, Media Coordinator for First Liberty Institute. Email:lmcniel@firstliberty.org, Direct: 972-941-4444, Cell: 972-989-2403

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To download a copy of this press release, click here.


Press Releases

First Liberty Press Release – 02/23/16

First Liberty Press Release – 04/25/16

Fact Sheet for Klein Opening Brief for Oregon Court of Appeals – 04/25/16

First Liberty Press Release – 09/8/16

First Liberty Media Alert – 02/28/17

First Liberty Press Release – 03/2/17

First Liberty Press Release – 09/8/17

First Liberty Logo - Restoring Religious Liberty for All Americans

To The American Legion:

As a grateful citizen, I support your effort to honor those who have fallen in battle and to keep the Bladensburg WWI Veterans Memorial standing as a visible reminder of valor, sacrifice, endurance, and devotion.

Veterans memorials like the one in Bladensburg, MD are symbols reminding us of the sacrifice of our service members and the cost of war. Tearing down the Bladensburg Memorial would erase the memory of the 49 fallen heroes of Prince George’s County—like they never even existed.

We cannot allow the Bladensburg Memorial to be bulldozed.

Please know that you have my support and backing in your petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.