Lesbian couple: Bakery's refusal to bake wedding cake caused emotional distress

TUALATIN, Ore. -- The lesbian couple accusing a Gresham bakery of discrimination began what could be a days-long hearing Tuesday to determine damages for emotional distress they claim they suffered as a result of discrimination by a Gresham bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for them.

In January of this year, an administrative law judge ruled Sweet Cakes by Melissa owners, Melissa and Aaron Klein, violated the rights of Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman by refusing to bake them a wedding cake because they are a same-sex couple.

Investigators for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries recommended damages in the amount of $75,000 for each woman. On Tuesday, Rachel Bowman-Cryer detailed what she believes is emotional distress she suffered due to the discrimination.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer described her mother's reaction to the news.

"The first thing my mother said when she found out I was getting married was, 'I know where we're getting your cake.'"

Bowman-Cryer described a positive experience with the bakery when her mother was married and went to Sweet Cakes by Melissa for her wedding cake.

"It had special meaning because of mom's cake," Bowman-Cryer said.

During the hearing, the first of several hours of testimony Tuesday, Bowman-Cyer described her shock when she went back with her mother in January 2013. Bowman-Cryer said she had arranged a cake tasting the day of Jan. 17, 2013.

She described bakery owner, Aaron Klein asking for the names of the bride and groom. When Rachel Bowman-Cryer told Klein there were two brides, she described the following reaction by Klein.

"He said, 'Well, then we may have wasted your time.'"

Rachel Bowman-Cryer said he explained the bakery would not be making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

"It was like being punched in the gut ... I was humiliated," Bowman-Cryer said.

"I was questioning whether we should get married. I was questioning whether or not anybody would ever accept us as a married couple and whether any of this was going to be worth the outcome in the end," Bowan-Cryer said.

"(My mom) was just shaking and trembling, she was so upset."

After several hours of testimony, the attorneys for Aaron and Melissa Klein cross-examined Rachel Bowman-Cryer.

After the hearing, Anna Harmon, an attorney for Aaron and Melissa Klein said, "Any amount would be detrimental, not only to their pocket books but to their freedom -- any amount the state is going to punish a person by for not saying what the state tells you you have to say is detrimental here."

The hearing resumes at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.