Friday, July 10, 2015

The Gay Thing: "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" Story Built on Lies (Update: Minus One Lie)

UPDATE: This story has been updated by its source, RawStory. Update is below.

Because of the way court cases wend their way through processes and appeals, this moldy old case, Sweet Cakes by Melissa keeps coming around. It's a case about an Oregon bakery that ran afoul of public accommodation laws by refusing to sell a cake to a lesbian couple. I've written about it, and related other cases, several times before, here, for one instance.

Image from source, Raw Story
Let me start this time, by saying that the entire tactic being used by the religious right regarding wedding vendors, civil clerks and magistrates in resistance to same-sex marriage is 100% bullshit. Not just in places, or in some cases, but complete bullshit in every case. It's so wrongheaded, and wrong in so many places, that it's rather difficult to write about, because the list of wrongs--and the tangents it takes you down--are so extensive. But the short version is, we're talking about civil marriage, which is a contract, not a religious sacrament. Civil marriage has coexisted with "holy matrimony" for eons, without causing a religious crisis for vendors, businesses, magistrates and clerks. A lengthy list of examples of past civil marriages that do not comport with mainstream religious beliefs can be hastily brought to mind, and yet there was no flurry of RFRA laws and other attempts to skirt around the rights of Americans to get civilly married. Shorter still: atheists don't have problems buying wedding cakes.

That only happened when gay people started the quest to get the right to marry. Suddenly, religiously delicate wedding vendors were coming out of the woodwork claiming that these civil marriages conflicted with their "sincerely held beliefs." Apparently, only The Gay Thing is "sinful" enough to warrant this brand new understanding of "religious freedom," meaning the right to be exempted from certain laws (or to ignore them), and to trample and trump the empirical rights of gay customers. Oddly enough, they rarely even try to define which "sincerely held belief" prevents them from selling their wares to gay couples, or how these beliefs enter into a typical business transaction in the first place. There's lots of bogus talk about them having to "participate in," "celebrate" or "condone" the ceremony by selling their product or service, all claims that are either in extreme dispute, or flatly disprovable.

Apparently, this is either "Sweet Cakes," or "Melissa."
What makes the Sweet Cakes by Melissa story even more of a lie, is that it started out before there was legal gay marriage in Oregon. This was a story about a couple, the Kleins, who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple's commitment ceremony reception. Not a sacred and/or legal ceremony. The Kleins broke the law doing this, since there is a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating against sexual orientation, along with the standard list of gender, religion, race, and what have you. Yet, whenever the Kleins' story is recounted, you will be told (usually by the Kleins or by some of the loudly religious groups that have helped martyr them) that this had to do with the legalization of same-sex marriage. The Kleins' legal drama is consistently touted as a consequence. It wasn't.


Oregon bakers weren’t fined over cake — they were punished for sharing lesbian couple’s home address [See correction below]

The anti-LGBT owners of an Oregon bakery were not fined simply for refusing to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple – they were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for intentionally causing their would-be customers emotional distress. e case has attracted widespread media attentiothe couple first filed their complaint in Januay 2013, and that is largely through the efforts of Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

Read more at: RawStory

"Correction: An earlier version of this article contained a significant error that resulted from failure to distinguish the difference between the agency’s recommendation and the commissioner’s final ruling. The bakers were not, as previously reported, punished for threats by others against the couple, as the agency had recommended. They were ordered by the commissioner to pay damages to the couple for emotional harm caused by their unlawful discrimination. We regret the error, and we would like to thank Eugene Volokh for clarifying the distinction." --RawStory 07/12/15

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