A ‘Christian baker’ who was forced to close her business after a wave of protests at her refusal to bake a wedding cake for a Lesbian couple has appeared at a right-wing Christian political rally, claiming she’s the one who was discriminated against.
Melissa Klein and her husband Aaron, former owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, were the star speakers at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, an annual gathering of extreme right-wing politicians and commentators.
The Kleins have become a cause celeb for conservative US political Christians opposed to same-sex marriage, after they refused to design a wedding cake for a Lesbian couple in January 2013, citing their religious objection to same-sex marriage.
It sparked a wave of national outrage against the couple, with customers and suppliers turning on the bakery.
The backlash forced Sweet Cakes to close its doors in September 2013, but a year and a half later, the issue is still being dragged through Oregonian courts… and the court of public opinion.
On Friday, Melissa Klein teared up during her and husband Aaron’s appearance at the Values Voter Summit, claiming their constitutional rights – presumably the one that allows them to be bigots – were being violated.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries has already publicly stated that the Klein’s committed a serious offence in refusing to serve the couple – Oregon laws specifically deny businesses the right to discriminate against people on the basis of their race, religious or sexual orientation.
Legal action against the couple is ongoing, prompting Values Voter Summit moderator Peter Sprigg to the couple how they were faring.
Aaron Klein responded: "I mean quite frankly, they didn't just harass us, they harassed the other wedding vendors that we did business with. It cut off our referral system” Klein said.
"We had to shut the shop down. Melissa does very limited cakes out of our house. I mean we're facing in excess of $150,000 of damages for this, just for simply standing by my first amendment rights."
Sprigg asked the couple what the audience could do in terms of praying for the couple.
“How can we pray for you, going forward?” asked a smiling Sprigg.
Klein seemed to infer that money would be more helpful than prayer, before listing a string of people who could use some ‘spiritual guidance’ including the chief of the Labour Bureau currently pursuing the couple.
“Well umm, first of all we have five kids, we’ve suffered some financial hardships because of this. God’s been good, he’s provided for us up until this point…” Aaron Klein replied, leaving the way open for potential donations.
He added: “Pray for our attorneys… pray for wisdom for them. The Commissioner Brad Avakian has made it clear at this point he believes we’ve broken the law. I’d say pray for him, pray for a changing of his mind.”
The pair received a lengthy standing ovation – including from other panelists – at the end of the session.
If you want to watch the video, you can see it here. The Klein’s appearance starts 7 hours and 50 minutes in… yes, that’s not a typo… 7 hours, 50 minutes in, the religious right in the US not being known for their brevity.
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