GRESHAM — The owners of the now-closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery here — which has come to symbolize for several years the nation’s tensions over religious freedom — are pursing the only avenue of appeal left for them in their protracted legal battle.
As reported by The Oregonian, lawyers for Aaron and Melissa Klein on Oct. 22 filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an Oregon state agency’s order to pay $135,000 in emotional damages to the lesbian couple for whom they declined to make a wedding cake.
Odds of the High Court hearing the case are slim, according to the newspaper. The court each year gets about 7,000 review requests on cases, but typically accepts less than 150.
The Kleins, a Christian couple who since 2013 have gotten national attention over the case, early this year asked the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn the state Court of Appeals ruling against them. But the state’s highest court in June opted not to hear the case and gave no explanation.
The state appeals court last December unanimously upheld an award of $135,000 to the women that had been ordered by an administrative law judge of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. That agency found that the Kleins had violated the state anti-discrimination law by denying service to the same-sex couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
The Kleins are represented by First Liberty Institute, a national law firm specializing in religious freedom issues.
The Kleins experienced major financial losses from the nationally publicized controversy and also were targeted with hate mail, harassment and threats, and eventually were forced to close their storefront location and later the business, which had moved to their home.
The Bowman-Cryers said they suffered deep emotional pain over the business’s denial of service as well as the huge publicity over the case.