GRESHAM, Ore. – Protesters gathered on Saturday outside a Gresham bakery that’s at the center of a wedding cake controversy.
A baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple is the subject of a state investigation. The story gained national attention since KATU News first reported it earlier this month.
Dozens of people showed up outside Sweet Cakes by Melissa Saturday afternoon to voice their opposition to Aaron Klein’s decision not to make the cake.
“That’s wrong. That’s a crime in Oregon,” said protester Rob Cochran. “I need to let people know if you’re going to do that as a business, there are going to be consequences.”
Inside the bakery, however, business is booming.
"Lots of support. Support coming through the door, support coming from - we get 25 or 30 letters a day," said Klein, who said he's been the subject of hate mail as well. "I think there are actually some photoshopped pictures of me going around that are pretty messed up, but in my opinion that really shows the morality of the people doing this."
Oregon Attorney General's civil enforcement officers are looking into whether Klein broke the law when he denied the couple a cake. The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 prohibits discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The statute includes public accommodations, such as businesses.
“I don’t really care about them as individuals. The fact is, businesses cannot be allowed to discriminate,” said Cochran.
“I thought it was really great that someone would stand up for what they believe and not feel pressured at the time,” said customer Sue Anderson. “I thought it was really good that they have some feelings about life, and they’re living it.”
Aaron Klein told KATU that he’ll close down shop if he has to, but he refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding. He says it’s a religious debate.
"I think [the state labor commissioner] is going to have decide what's more important: The Oregon State Constitution, or the statute that was passed in 2007," Klein said. "They dropped the ball by not putting in any exemption for religious beliefs."
The lesbian couple at the center of the controversy received offers to make them a wedding cake from all over the country. Local baker Laura Widener, who runs the Southeast Portland bakery Pastrygirl, will make their wedding cake.
Celebrity baker Duff Goldman will also make them a second “bride’s cake” in the style of a “groom’s cake.