Emails Raise Questions of Bias in Case Against Bakers Who Denied Service for Same-Sex Wedding

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from The Daily Signal,

The Daily Signal has exclusively learned that the government agency responsible for enforcing Oregon’s anti-discrimination law appears to be working closely with a powerful gay rights advocacy group in its case against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

Communications between the agency, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the LGBT organization, Basic Rights Oregon, raise questions about potential bias in the state’s decision to charge the Kleins with discrimination for refusing to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

In April, a judge for the agency recommended the Kleins be fined $135,000.

Communications obtained through a public records request show employees of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries—which pursued the case against the Kleins—participating in phone calls, texting, and attending meetings with Basic Rights Oregon, the largest LGBT advocacy group in the state.

t is unclear what occurred during these meetings and phone calls, but the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries commissioner, who is in charge of determining the Kleins’ final punishment, met with Basic Rights Oregon on multiple occasions and purchased tickets costing hundreds of dollars benefiting the advocacy group.

Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer (who have since married) filed a complaint against Sweet Cakes by Melissa in February 2013, a month after the Kleins refused to make a cake for the couple’s same-sex wedding.

At the time, same-sex marriage was not legal in Oregon, and Basic Rights Oregon was in the process of gathering signatures to bring the measure to the ballot in the upcoming 2014 election.

Oregon began recognizing same-sex marriages from other states in October of 2013, and on May 19, 2014, a federal judge struck down the ban, legalizing gay marriage.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries waited until August 2013 to open its investigation into Sweet Cakes by Melissa, six months after the agency received the initial complaint from Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.

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