Sweet Cakes By Melissa, a small bakery in Gresham, Ore. that reportedly refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple’s wedding closed its retail location on August 31. The bakery shut their doors and moved to a domestic location because protesters boycotted the store. Protesters also threatened to boycott florists and wedding planners that did business with the bakery.
Now, the couple has filed a discrimination suit and the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries is opening an investigation on the small business. According to Fox News, the couple has also taken to newspaper and television to tell their stories.
According to the Huffington Post Tuesday and Fox News Monday, the owners of the shop are quoted saying they do not have anything against homosexuals. The couple simply does not support gay marriage because of their strict Christian background.
At what point can protesters, fueled by their freedom of speech, stifle others’ freedom of speech — specifically freedom of religion? Can private companies promote their points of view in their business? Kosher Delis can. Bakeries that make penis-shaped birthday cakes can. Does a bakery have the power to discriminate?
“We don’t have anything against lesbians or homosexuals,” Melissa Klein said in August, as reported by the Huffington Post and Fox News. “It has to do with our morals and beliefs. It’s so frustrating because we went through all of this in January, when it all came out.”
Ironic the owner used “came out” to describe the situation.
Fox News also reports the family received death threats, saying “militant homosexuals” swarmed the store and protested for months and called their home. Are the protesters fighting fire with fire or are they invalidating their cause by making personal attacks on the owners?
While the owners’ choice to refuse the couple is bigoted, the bakery is just a small mom ‘n’ pop shop, not a large corporation with strong political or social influence throughout the country.
Look at Chick-fil-A. The company donated $2 million to gay conversion therapy programs and organizations back in 2010. People opposed to these policies protested until the owners of the organization pledged to remove Chick-fil-A from social and political debates.
This bakery is malicious in the sense that excluding a group of people, possible clients, even, is inherently problematic. But these people are trying to operate within their own beliefs. It is a privately owned family bakery and they have the right to live by their morals.