High Court Avoids New Gay Wedding Cake Case | Chicago News

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This February 5, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the now closed Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon. The Supreme Court dismisses an Oregon court ruling against bakers who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. (Everton Bailey Jr. / The Oregonian via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court ruled on Monday against a high-stakes case, an election year, concerning the competing rights of same-sex couples and traders who refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages.

Judges gave bakers in the Portland, Oregon area a small victory by overturning a state court ruling against them and ordering judges to reconsider their refusal to bake a wedding cake for a couple lesbians.

The brief High Court order directs Oregon appeals judges to review the Supreme Court’s last-term ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who would not bake a cake for a same-sex marriage. The court ruled that baker Jack Phillips had been the victim of anti-religious bias in the Colorado Civil Rights Commission determination that he violated state anti-discrimination law by refusing to prepare the couple’s wedding cake. Oregon’s appeal decision came before the court ruling in the Phillips case.

But the importance of the order is that it keeps the case out of the docket for a term that will end in June 2020 in the midst of the presidential election campaign. The judges have already agreed to decide in their election year session whether the federal civil rights law protects people from discrimination in employment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The broader issue of weighing the rights of LGBT people against the religious objections of traders remains unresolved. Another dispute involving a Washington state florist who fails to create flower arrangements for a same-sex marriage is referred to the Supreme Court.

The High Court adopted the same tactic last year in the florist case. Reconsidering the case, the Washington Supreme Court concluded earlier in June that there was no animosity towards religion in court rulings that florist Barronelle Stutzman broke the anti-discrimination laws of the State by refusing for religious reasons to provide flowers for the marriage of a same-sex couple. Stutzman owns Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington.

Judges could consider Stutzman’s appeal in the fall.

The Oregon case had been in Supreme Court limbo for months, sometimes signaling behind-the-scenes negotiations over what to do. There was no dissent noted or other explanation for the delay in Monday’s order.

The case involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid the couple $ 135,000 for refusing to create a cake for them in 2013. The Klein’s bakery was Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon. It has since closed.

The dispute began when Rachel Bowman-Cryer went to the bakery with her mother in January 2013. They met Aaron Klein, who asked for the date of the ceremony and the names of the bride and groom.

When told there was no groom, Klein said he was sorry but the bakery didn’t bake cakes for same-sex weddings. According to case documents, Rachel and her mother left the store, but returned shortly thereafter. As Rachel remained in the car, in tears, her mother walked in to speak with Klein.

The mother told Klein that she had once thought like him, but that her “truth had changed” when she had two gay children. Klein responded by quoting Leviticus: “You shall not sleep with a man as one sleeps with a woman; it is an abomination.


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