Another week, another gay wedding cake story. This is actually an old one, but it’s taken a new twist which may spell some trouble down the road for the popular crowd funding site, GoFundMe. The story began more than two years ago when Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa declined to provide a wedding cake for a lesbian couple because it would conflict with their religious beliefs. The inevitable lawsuit began and the usual list of suspects swarmed upon the small business, essentially shutting them down. Now, a court has suggested (though not finalized) a massive fine against the bakery. A crowdfunding initiative was immediately set up to assist the owners with these upcoming, crippling costs and it quickly attracted more than $100K in donations to help them out. That’s when the same usual list of suspects turned their ire on GoFundMe for daring to process the request and the site quickly caved to their demands and shut down the account. (From the Washington Times)
A crowdfunding campaign that had raised more than $109,000 for the Christian-owned bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon was removed Saturday after complaints from gay-rights advocates. The website GoFundMe said in a statement Saturday that it took down the page because the campaign violated the policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”
“The campaign entitled ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa‘ involves formal charges. As such, our team has determined that it was in violation of GoFundMe’s Terms & Conditions,” said GoFundMe in an email statement.
“The money raised thus far will still be made available for withdrawal,” said GoFundMe.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries proposed a damages award Friday of $135,000 against Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of the bakery, after they were found in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination law in February.
So what were the horrible damages which the lesbian couple suffered, justifying such a huge payday? Emotional distress… but the real price was paid by the bakery.
The Bowman-Cryers both testified to the emotional stress they attributed to their experience with Sweet Cakes as well as the glare of media attention that soon followed.
Aaron Klein said his family, too, had suffered because of the case. Reporters came to his home and his shop, he testified during the March hearing.
The Sweet Cakes by Melissa car was vandalized and broken into twice. Photographers and florists severed ties with the company, eventually forcing Sweet Cakes to close the Gresham shop in September 2013. The business now operates out of the couple’s home in Sandy.
The ship has pretty well sailed on this one in terms of defending the religious freedom rights of the bakery owners. It’s another case of what Erick Erickson famously predicted when he said, You Will Be Made to Care. The Klein family has certainly been made to care. But as I said at the top, the spotlight of this story has swung away from the Kleins and toward GoFundMe. What policy is it that they were enforcing here? From their own rules of operation, they won’t allow fundraisers for heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts. Seriously? Not baking a wedding cake for a couple who would have been perfectly welcome to come in and shop for cupcakes, donuts or any other treats in the store falls into a category with murder or rape? That one fails to pass the smell test by a country mile. What they really didn’t want to do was run afoul of a powerful political lobby from the Left.
But if GoFundMe was that willing to immediately cave in on this case, what else would they bail out on? They allowed a fundraiser for Memories Pizza, but claim that the account was allowed because there weren’t charges or fines pending. By that criteria, a legal defense fund for anyone anywhere charged with any crime should not be allowed, right? Even if the defendant is somebody the Left happens to like? I’m suspicious as to how consistent they will be on this policy to say the least.
Should any conservatives continue to use GoFundMe? I’m generally not one for boycotts in the free market (which generally tends to maintain itself) but crowdfunding shoppers should certainly be wary about a service which might turn around and cancel their account as soon as they draw some bad press in the liberal media. There seem to be some other options out there, though none of them do the same volume yet and there are restrictions which can apply. Here’s a list of the top ten, at least according to one source. Indiegogo seems to be gaining some ground in the market. There are quite a few others, but you have to look into the details of their terms of service. Some are for “creative projects” only and couldn’t be used for a legal fund or political cause. All of them seem to have a variety of fees associated with campaigns so you’ll want to be aware how big of a bite they’ll be taking out of the cash before it gets issued to the recipient.
But with those caveats stated up front, it may pay you to look around. If it’s a conservative cause, GoFundMe may not be willing to stand up for the group using their services.
UPDATE: (Jazz) From the comments section here, always one step ahead of the curve.
Help Sweet Cakes….here: