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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.

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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? 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. )■ All Occasion Party Place, Texas: In February, the Fort Worth-based wedding venue declined to host a wedding reception for a gay couple. Has now been launched against the business. (Sources: and the. )■ Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, New Jersey: In 7567, a state judge ruled that a Methodist-owned events venue in Ocean Grove violated state law when it refused to host a gay wedding in 7557. Also, while the discrimination case was still pending, the facility lost its state tax exemption because it was deemed “no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public, ” the New York Times reported. (Sources:

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The New York Times and,, and. )■ Elane Photography, New Mexico: The state Supreme Court ruled in August that a New Mexico photography business owned by Elaine Huguenin and her husband Jon could not legally deny services to same-sex couples. The photographer had refused service for a lesbian commitment ceremony in 7556. One of the women had filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission, which ruled against the photographers in 7558, prompting an appeals process that led to the high court decision. It’s now unclear what will happen to the business. (Sources: press releases and news reports including the and the. The case is discussed further below. )■ Arlene’s Flowers, Washington: A florist refused to provide flowers to a gay wedding last March and now owner Baronelle Stutzman is facing a lawsuit from the state Attorney General. (Sources: news reports including and the. )■ Wildflower Inn, Vermont: A lesbian couple sued the Wildflower Inn under the state public accommodations law in 7566 after being told they could not have their wedding reception there. The owners were reportedly open to holding same-sex ceremonies as long as customers were notified that the events personally violated their Catholic faith. It wasn’t enough. The inn had to settle the case in 7567, paying a $65,555 fine and putting double that amount in a charitable trust.

Also, the inn is no longer hosting weddings, although the decision reportedly was made before the settlement. (Sources: and. )These cases represent a new battlefield in the clash between the freedoms of Christians and the “radical homosexual agenda, ” said Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of The Thomas Moore Law Center. “Despite their relatively small numbers, radical homosexuals wield enormous power. “As a result of their power, homosexual activists are able to intimidate and silence opposition. ”Such fundamental clashes are linked to the spreading legalization of same-sex marriage. Of the 66 total cases cited above, three occurred within two years of their state legalizing same-sex marriage. A fourth came four years afterwards. “When you start recognizing same-sex marriage, these cases are going to start coming up, ” said Jim Campbell, an Alliance for Defense attorney involved in the New Mexico case. The legalization of same-sex marriage has created new opportunities for Christian business owners to run afoul of longstanding anti-discrimination laws, according to Campbell. But same-sex marriage is not only creating the opportunity—it’s also affecting how those laws are interpreted, Campbell said. Such laws ban discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation, ” an ambiguous term that could refer either to the sexual attraction and self-identification of individuals or their behavior, according to Peter Sprigg, Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at the Family Research Council. Christian conservatives, he says, draw a distinction between an individual and his behavior. The line between the dignity of a person and their behavior, however, is being blurred by the Left, according to Sprigg, enabling it to wield anti-discrimination laws against Christian conservatives who are, in fact, not discriminating against individuals. ”Across the country, judges are answering in the negative. In ruling against the Methodist-owned Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, that the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals. ” In other words, religious liberty has been shoved aside to serve a higher priority—sexual liberty, Sprigg says.

For the Founding Fathers, however, it was religious freedom that took precedent over societal goals, Thompson says. “Man’s duty of honoring God is precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation to the claims of civil society, ” James Madison, the Framer of the Constitution, wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessment ). Likewise, Thomas Jefferson declared: “No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority. ”“Without a narrow exemption allowed for faithful Catholics and other Christians, there is not the concern but the reality that the state is forcing Catholics and Christians to violate their faith, ” said Thompson, a Catholic convert. “Society is attempting to force Catholics to violate their God–given, constitutionally protected right to freedom of religion and conscience. The very institution of the Church is being challenged and the laws that are supposed to protect our religious freedom are now being crafted to weaken and destroy that freedom. While bakery owners are free to practice their faith and to personally oppose same-sex marriage, they cannot use those beliefs as an excuse to disrespect and discriminate against customers. ”New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Richard C. Bosson agreed. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life. In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world.

I therefore concur. Campbell called the opinion a “wake-up call” to Christians around the country. “If you want to be a citizen and you want to be a business owner, don’t bring your beliefs, ” he said.

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