Friday, July 10, 2015

Oregon Bakers Charged Asshole Tax

The story of an Oregon bakery that refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding and was subsequently ordered to pay damages to the couple has been in the media recently, prompting the usual sort of comments that seem to accompany most large legal settlements. According to critics, all bakers Aaron and Melissa Klein did was refuse to make a cake, and for that the award of $135,000 clearly seems excessive.

However, the Kleins did far more than refuse service. They published the couple's contact information, and then flogged the story as hard as they could in the media. As any reasonable person could guess, this provoked an continuing onslaught of threats from Christians who felt oppressed by their mere existence - and apparently that of lesbian wedding cake.

Conservative media and anti-LGBT organizations such as the Family Research Council promoted the Kleins as victims of religious discrimination.

Rachel Bowman-Cryer said she and her wife received a steady stream of threats that continued as the Kleins promoted their side of the case in national media appearances.

She testified that state adoption officials told them they were responsible for keeping their two foster daughters safe from those threats, and they feared they could lose custody of the girls — who they have since adopted.

In its final order, issued last week, the labor bureau found the Kleins had violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws – but the damages awarded were not a “gay fascism tax,” as some commenters argued.

The bureau found the Kleins liable for the threats made by others against the couple and awarded them to pay “$60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for emotional suffering.”

If the bakery had just refused to bake a cake for the couple they would have been fined a whole lot less. For that matter, if they had been smart about it, they probably could have figured out a way to refuse service without letting on that they were being discriminatory and avoided a fine altogether. But instead they felt entitled to spout Bible verses and so forth at the couple, which made their motivations quite clear.

The Kleins then deliberately set out to make the couple's life hell in the media. They likely did this because they figured they could get a big payout from conservatives opposed to "Christian persecution." They either didn't really care that their actions meant this couple would have to endure a steady stream of harassment and stood a real chance of losing their kids, or perhaps even looked forward to it.

That's not being called being Christians, that's called being assholes. The couple did everything they could to keep the case out of the media, but the Kleins insisted on publicizing it along with their full contact information. From that perspective the damages awarded strike me as completely reasonable. Nobody who reports a legitimate violation of the law should have to fear facing a backlash of such proportions, because all that does is keep people from coming forward.

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1 comment:

Rufus Opus said...

They raised $108,000 immediately on gofundme.

fuck 'em.