Sorry, Slate: Oregon Did Put a ‘Gag Order’ on Those Christian Bakers

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from The Daily Signal,

On Thursday, The Daily Signal published an article about Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) Commissioner Brad Avakian ordering Aaron and Melissa Klein, Christian bakers who had refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, to pay the couple $135,000 for “emotional” damages and issuing a gag order against the Kleins.

On Monday, Slate published an article criticizing The Daily Signal’s coverage headlined “No, Oregon Did Not ‘Gag’ That Anti-Gay Bakery.”

While that’s a great, provocative headline, Slate’s headline is simply not true.

In fact, the Kleins are now legally required, as a result of the order issued Thursday, “to cease and desist from publishing, circulating, issuing or displaying, or causing to be published … any communication to the effect that any of the accommodations … will be refused, withheld from or denied to, or that any discrimination be made against, any person on account of their sexual orientation,” as The Daily Signal’s reporter Kelsey Harkness wrote in her article Friday.

But here’s what [Slate’s Mark Joseph] Stern overlooks: Commissioner Avakian recites in detail the statements the Kleins made that he is upset about and that his agency claims violate Oregon law. What led to his “cease and desist” order is the key to understanding why it’s accurately called a gag order that prevents the Kleins from speaking about their faith and their intent to “stay strong” and fight this harassment by the Oregon state government.

On page 24, Avakian objected to Aaron Klein telling Tony Perkins in the interview: “We don’t do same-sex marriage, same-sex wedding cakes … ” But if you read the interview transcript, Aaron was repeating what he had told the lesbian couple at the time, not what necessarily reflected his beliefs at the time of the interview.

Avakian also “singles out” the text on a handwritten sign that was shown taped to the window of the Sweet Cakes bakery during the Christian Broadcasting Network broadcast.

Avakian took these general statements of the Kleins talking about their religious beliefs, the attack launched on them by Avakian’s agency, and their determination to not give in to government persecution, to “constitute notice that discrimination will be made in the future by refusing such services.”

Therefore, Avakian entered his “cease and desist” language on page 42 and 43 preventing the Kleins from saying or publishing anything even remotely similar to all of the language he summarized in which the Kleins were clearly talking about their beliefs about same-sex marriage and their intent to continue to “stay strong” and fight this unfair, unjustified financial penalty and gag order.

And this is the crux of the point made in the original Daily Signal article: If these personal statements of religious belief and willingness to defend themselves against government persecution can be construed as showing “discrimination,” then pretty much almost everything the Kleins could say about their case could be construed by Oregon as showing “discrimination.”

In other words: The Kleins are, yes, “gagged” legally from saying much more, if anything, about their case.

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