After six years and hundreds of celebratory confections, it wasn’t the economy, the stiff competition, financing, or any of the other usual road bumps of building a new business that caused Sweet Cakes by Melissa—a husband-and-wife bakery in Portland, Oregon area—to close its doors at the end of the summer. In January, co-owner Aaron Klein had denied a request to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. “The Bible tells us to flee from sin, ” his wife and business namesake, Melissa Klein. “I don’t think making a cake for it helps. Protests, boycotts, and a storm of media attention—much of it negative—ensued. The couple received death threats. Then, activists broadened the boycott: any wedding vendor that did business with Sweet Cakes would be targeted.
The final nail in the coffin came in August when the slighted lesbian couple filed an anti-discrimination suit with the state. “The LGBT attacks are the reason we are shutting down the shop. They have killed our business through mob tactics, ” Klein. His wife added: “I guess in my mind I thought we lived in a lot nicer of a world where everybody tolerated everybody.
”This March, then, unexpectedly, a mere two years after the introduction of gay marriage in America, a number of latent concerns about the impact of this innovation on religious freedom ceased to be theoretical. How could Adam and Steve’s marriage possibly hurt anyone else? When religious-right leaders prophesy negative consequences from gay marriage, they are often seen as overwrought. The First Amendment, we are told, will protect religious groups from persecution for their views about marriage. So who is right?
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Is the fate of Catholic Charities of Boston an aberration or a sign of things to come? Seven years later, we have the answer: as of this writing, there have been at least 66 instances of wedding vendors and venues facing some form of recrimination—threats, boycotts, protests, and the intervention of state or judicial authorities—because they denied services for gay nuptials because of their faith. The Lakewood bakery has faced at least two protests, a Facebook-driven boycott, and a discrimination complaint from the state Attorney General that was scheduled for a hearing in September. (Sources:
news reports including and. )■ Victoria’s Cake Cottage, Iowa: Baker Victoria Childress denied service to a lesbian couple hoping to get married in 7566. The Des Moines baker was called a “bigot” and faced a protest and but refused to budge, citing her Christian faith. )■ Fleur Cakes, Oregon:
Pam Regentin, the owner of the Mount Hood-area cake shop, refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple earlier this year, sparking another in May. (Sources: news reports including. )■ Liberty Ridge Farm, New York: The family-owned farm in mid-state New York is facing a human rights complaint after refusing to host a lesbian wedding in 7567.
(Sources: local news sources and and the.