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Oregon bakery pays $144,000 fine for refusing to bake gay wedding cake

The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa finally paid a state-imposed fine for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

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    Jen Chang, left, and Inae Lee pose for photos before joining over 100 gay couples in a June mass wedding during World Pride 2014 at Casa Loma in Toronto.
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Oregon bakery owners who denied service to a same-sex couple have paid $135,000 in state-ordered damages — after refusing to do so for nearly six months.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries says Aaron Klein, co-owner of the Portland-areabakery, dropped off a check Monday for $136,927.07. That includes accrued interest. Klein also paid $7,000 earlier this month.

Damages were awarded in July for emotional suffering caused by Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which two years ago refused to make a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer. The bakers said their refusal was prompted by religious beliefs.

A 2007 Oregon law protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and public accommodations. The state ruled it also bars private businesses from discriminating against potential customers.

In 2013, when the two women were planning their nuptials, the Kleins, citing their religious beliefs, refused to bake the cake. The gay couple married in 2014 after a federal judge struck down the state's same-sex marriage ban.

The state's Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) contends the bakery owners violated the state's anti-discrimination laws because the shop is not a registered religious institution, reported Reuters.

Klein's lawyer Anna Harmon could not be reached for comment.

In April, a judge in Kentucky upheld the right of a printing company owned by devout Christians to refuse to produce T-shirts promoting a gay pride festival. As The Christian Science Monitor reported:

The judge cited both free speech and freedom of religion in ruling that the company did not discriminate when it declined to print T-shirts for an event promoting activities offensive to the owners’ religious beliefs.

“There is no evidence in this record that [the company] or its owners refused to print the T-shirts in question based upon the sexual orientation of the GLSO or its members,” he said.

“Rather, it is clear beyond dispute that [the company] and its owners declined to print the T-shirts in question because of the MESSAGE advocating sexual activity outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.”

In November, the Associated Press reported that the owners of an upstate New York wedding venue, who were fined $13,000 after refusing to host a lesbian wedding, were appealing the ruling.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their Christian beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman. The state's Division of Human Rights ruled that business owned by Robert and Cynthia Gifford violated New York's anti-discrimination law.

“The policy to not allow same-sex marriage ceremonies on Liberty Ridge Farm is a denial of access to a place of public accommodation,” Judge Migdalia Pares wrote in her decision in August 2014.

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