By Nigel Jaquiss- Via WWeek-
Aaron Klein changed his mind.
Since July, Klein has refused to comply with an order from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries that he pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for whom Klein’s Gresham bakery, Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to make a wedding cake.
But today, without fanfare, Klein walked into BOLI’s Portland office and handed over a check for $136,927.07, an amount that includes accrued interest.
Depositing the check doesn’t mean that Klein and his wife and business partner, Melissa Klein, have given up: Although they are no longer defying the state order, they continue to fight it in the Oregon Court of Appeals.
On July 2, Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered the Kleins to pay damages of $135,000 to Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
That order came after a BOLI administrative law judge ruled that Aaron Klein had discriminated against the Bowman-Cryers by refusing in January 2013 to bake the two women a cake for a planned civil commitment ceremony.
Aaron Klein said baking the cake would have been contrary to his religious beliefs. But BOLI ruled that Oregon law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, regardless of one’s beliefs.
The BOLI ruling caused a national furor, and supporters of the Kleins rushed to their aid, contributing at least $517,000 on crowdsourcing websites.
Initially, records show, the Kleins and their legal team showed an inclination to post a bond with BOLI pending the outcome of an appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals. Subsequently, however, they decided neither to post a bond or present BOLI a check to be held in escrow. Until today.
Updated at 4:45 pm: One of the Kleins’ attorneys, Tyler Smith, provided this statement:
“Aaron and Melissa Klein are devoted to honoring God in every aspect of their lives, including how they conduct themselves in this litigation. Oregon law requires that as they appeal the Oregon government’s decision denying them their First Amendment rights, they must either pay the amount imposed by the Oregon government, or obtain a bond for the amount of the judgment. The least expensive option to stay in compliance with the law was to pay the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries funds that will be kept in a separate account until they prevail in their court appeal.”