Same-sex couple denied cake files discrimination complaint

GRESHAM, Ore. - The same-sex couple who was denied a wedding cake at a Gresham bakery because of their sexual orientation has filed an anti-discrimination complaint with the state.

At question is whether Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery violated the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 when owner Aaron Klein refused to bake the couple a cake in January. The story made national headlines at the time.

Klein told KATU at the time that when the couple came in and asked for a cake, he apologized and said his bakery doesn't do cakes for same-sex weddings. Aaron Klein owns the bakery with his wife Melissa.

Oregon law doesn't allow businesses to deny service based on sexual orientation. There is an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but private businesses can't discriminate based on sexual orientation, race, sex, age, veteran status, disability or religion.

Melissa Klein said she received the complaint on Tuesday and is still working with her lawyer to formulate a response.

"Really there is no reaction," she said, adding that they had been expecting the complaint.

Melissa Klein said she doesn't know if she broke the law or not, but added that "from the looks of it, it seems like I guess maybe we did, but I don't know."

She said she and her husband never intended to hurt anybody.

"I wish I could sit down and talk to them and explain to them that it wasn't done out of hate or that we dislike them or have anything against them," Melissa Klein said. "It solely has to do with us and our walk with Christ and our faith and how we want to live our lives."

The complaint was filed by Rachel Cryer, one of the two women denied a cake.

In the complaint, Cryer wrote that she went to buy a cake and was asked for the name of the bride and groom. She replied and said "there are two brides and our names are Rachel and Laurel."

That's when Cryer said Aaron Klein cited his religious beliefs and said the shop does not make cakes for same-sex weddings.

The complaint will be investigated by the Bureau of Labor and Industries and is required to be completed within one year.

"We are committed to a fair and thorough investigation to determine whether there's substantial evidence of unlawful discrimination," said state labor commissioner Brad Avakian.

If investigators find "substantial evidence" of discrimination, the two parties may attempt to reach a private settlement. If that process fails, the bureau may file charges against the bakery.

Paul Thompson, the attorney for the couple filing the complaint, said his clients were weighing their options and decided now was the time to file a complaint.

He said their goal is to "see that the laws are enforced."

Melissa Klein said the wedding part of her cake business has taken a hit since this story first came to light, but she stands by her views, even if it costs her the bakery.

"My walk with the lord is more important than any dollar and any business any day."