Leftist talking points vs. facts in Oregon's persecution of Christian bakers

For years, the LGBT movement has claimed its goal is tolerance — for society and the government to consider same-sex sexual relationships equal to those between men and women, even though research, science, and nature show this equality does not exist.

In the 16 days since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to undefine marriage, that factually-challenged talking point has been all but forgotten in the rush to further change marriage, strip churches of their non-profit statuses, and punish those who refuse to bow to the new order.

Of course, liberals must still pretend their goal is so-called “equality,” not the state-sanctioned punishment of free speech, and other human rights such as religious liberty. Which brings us to the liberal blogs Raw Story and The New Civil Rights Movement (TNCRM), the administrative law judge who levied a $135,000 fine against the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon, and the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), whose top person appointed the judge to oversee the case.

Judge Alan McCullough

Earlier this month, McCullough ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein owed a lesbian couple $135,000 for citing Christian beliefs on marriage in choosing to not baking a cake for the couple’s “wedding.” According to McCullough, the Kleins committed the crime of religious expression for not serving the couple because of sexual orientation.

However, this is not what happened. What the Kleins did was deny service based upon a chosen relationship and a chosen ceremony. Neither of these has anything to do with sexual orientation or attraction.

Alas, according to McCullough and BOLI, such an expression of belief is illegal for business owners in Oregon when it comes to same-sex couples. This state-sanctioned prejudice against Christians, ironically called a “non-discrimination” law.

Almost as disturbing as the law and its enforcement is how one of the lesbians was awarded $15,000 less than the other — $60,000 compared to $75,000 — because she was found to have lied about some things and exaggerated others. Yet McCullough still found her worthy of $60,000 of the Kleins’ hard-earned money.

Raw Story

In a blaring headline, Raw Story claims that “Oregon bakers forced to pay $135,000 after sharing lesbian couple’s home address,” and in its original story, expanded upon the claim that the Kleins were punished for sharing the lesbian couple’s address online. Furthermore, Raw Story said that the Kleins were punished for alleged emotional damage related to media exposure to the lesbian couple.

To its credit, Raw Story updated its article to note Eugene Volokh’s excellent analysis showing how its analysis was wrong. However, the factually incorrect headline remains the same — which means Raw Story is sending its readers down the wrong path right from the start, and the tone of the article could easily lead readers to an incorrect conclusion about why the fine was ordered.

The New Civil Rights Movement

Like Raw Story, TNCRM acknowledged Volokh’s point — but also like its liberal ally, the site shoehorned some false information into the mix. Specifically, TNCRM’s Brint Crockett stated that “a portion of those emotional damages resulted from the Kleins’ public statements and actions in response to receiving the complaint.”

This is false. The decision shows that while BOLI sought damages related to media exposure and the lesbian couple’s address being posted online, McCullough rejected damages related to media exposure.

In a Twitter exchange, TNCRM founder David Badash defended Crockett’s article, stating that “we read the entire 122 page final finding of facts.” Badash also said that “Klein posted the discrimination complaint on Facebook with the couple’s name & address. I think had a lot to do with it,” which, again, is totally at odds with McCullough’s ruling.

Other bits of misleading bias were sneaked into Crockett’s story. In a section designed to evoke sympathy for the lesbian couple who decided to use the tyranny of big government against a Mom-and-Pop bakery, the TNCRM story claimed that “All they’d done was file a discrimination complaint. That’s all.”

Yeah, that’s all.

Additionally, according to TNCRM, “Bowman & Cryer remained so humbly quiet, concerned with their relationship and family.” I would also be “so humbly quiet” if I knew the mighty arm of government would take my side to distort an unjust, unjustly applied law.

Lastly, Crockett keyed into BOLI and McCullough’s ridiculous assertion that denying service because of a chosen relationship and a chosen ceremony is the same as denying service over attraction or orientation:

BOLI’s order finds no difference between being a homosexual and being a to-be-wed homosexual wedding-cake customer. That seems obvious, but it’s logic lost upon the Kleins. After all, they served the Bowman-Cryer’s before the couple became engaged, and discriminated against them only after learning of the couple’s engagement.

In fact, Crockett’s points prove that the Kleins handled this as Christians should. They showed no discrimination against people, but instead, against relationships that explicitly contradict the Will of God. Akin to Christ’s treatment of the adulterer, they recognized that all people deserve to be treated as children of God even as spiritually, physically, and socially harmful behaviors should be discouraged.

Like Raw Story, TNCRM needs to radically change a solid portion of its story in order to stop misinformation from being spread.

The Bureau of Labor and Industries

In a press release announcing McCullough’s decision, BOLI said the awarded damages were “related to the harm suffered by the Complainants, not fines or civil penalties which are punitive in nature.”

I did not have a chance to reach out to BOLI for comment, as I only began my research for this post on Friday afternoon. But it is rather absurd for BOLI to deny that financial punishments — related to violating a state law that BOLI was enforcing — are “fines or civil penalties, which are punitive in nature.”

Perhaps one of the lawyers in the comments can help me out with this one?

The real story: BOLI (and liberals) want to silence opposition

Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky summarized the issue pretty well in a statement e-mailed to me yesterday:

Commissar Avakian is forcing the Kleins to pay $135,000 for the supposed “emotional harm” the lesbian couple suffered from the Kleins simply telling them they did want to participate in their wedding ceremony by baking a cake – for “denial of service.”   This despite the fact that the couple almost immediately got another baker to agree to provide them with a cake.  He has also imposed a gag order on them because he was apparently angry that the Kleins were defending themselves in the media.

Apparently when you are persecuted by the government, he thinks you should not be able to speak up.  Fortunately, we are not the type of banana republic Avakian wants to turn us into.