Being a gay Christian is a lot like being a hanyou (half-spirit) from the Inuyasha anime series. A hanyou is a being born from both a human and a youkai, a Japanese spiritual entity. Hanyou beings are despised by both humans and youkai for, in both sides’ eyes, not belonging to either faction.
Sometimes, being a gay Christian feels much the same way. In difficult times such as legal struggles between Christian and gay factions over a matter of injustice, you aren’t sure where your loyalty should belong. This is me right now after having the strangest urge to revisit the Oregon baker case, which pitted Melissa Klein, the baker of “Sweet Cakes” against a lesbian couple who wanted a wedding cake from her. To say that I have mixed feelings about this case after reading further into it would be putting things far too lightly.
Mrs. Klein is a woman of faith who is a proponent of man and woman marriage only. As such, she felt that creating a cake for a lesbian wedding would be a violation of her conscience, and politely declined to make one, not out of malice, but out of her beliefs.
For that, the government of Oregon punished Mrs. Klein’s business to a degree that I’m unwilling to call fair justice.
What Happened Back Then?
While I did know back then that Mrs. Klein was charged $135,000 in damages to the couple, I wasn’t aware of why. Then, by way of one of the articles written on this issue, I found the list of reasons provided by the lesbian couple for why they sued.
This is the list here.
Somebody took the liberty of counting the number of damages done to the couple by the incident, and evidently, the grand total is a whopping 178.
Obviously, that was alarming, but reading through the offenses was far worse.
For starters, the couple said that they felt “mentally raped” by having their request turned down; I really don’t know how to take that. First of all, naturally, I have no idea what it was like being in their shoes when this happened. But then again, that does seem like an extreme reaction to me, when all that happened was that they didn’t get a cake.
Also, besides that, one of the damages was listed as “not wanting husband to touch her”.
Wait, what? Now, of course, one of the girls could’ve been married to a man while waiting to divorce him, but that’s me trying to give the benefit of the doubt here. If that’s not the case (as I suspect it isn’t), this damage has no basis.
Besides the aforementioned ones, they also mentioned “distrust of men”. Obviously, “not all men” needs to be said, especially when this was presumably listed after Aaron Klein turned them down.
Now, in defense of the couple (after I found out here that they’ve received a horrific amount of ongoing hate-mail), there have to be legitimate reasons for their listed damages. I also know that chances are, this was more than “just a cake” to them, as this must’ve carried a great deal of symbolism for both sides. Nonetheless, I’m wary of the extreme quantity of damages.
Overall, the list of damages contains a number of adjectives such as “stress”, “worry”, and “upset”, along with redundantly similar words such as “tension”. Because of how exaggerated this list seems, I’m under the impression that the following accusation made against the Kleins was a lie.
According to the Huffington Posts’ article on the matter, Aaron Klein was accused of calling the couple “abominations unto the Lord” when one of them came to request a wedding cake. Mr. Klein denied the accusation, and it appears that the issue was a matter of miscommunication.
While Mr. Klein did cite to one of the complainant’s mother the Leviticus verse calling laying with a man an “abomination”, the mother apparently quoted him calling her daughter an abomination instead. As a mother of a lesbian daughter, it’s completely understandable that this woman would’ve angrily recounted that verse as a personal attack on her daughter. But that was a mistake on her part, because she portrayed Mr. Klein as demonizing her daughter, when he only quoted the verse to describe his beliefs.
The Full Extent of the Legal Battle
This is the full timeline of the events from that moment in the bakery to the Kleins’ appeal.
Over the course of this battle, the Kleins have had to give $135,000 in damages, and on top of that, they reportedly had their three accounts wiped clean by Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries.
One of these accounts was explicitly used for tithe money intended for God’s use.
If that isn’t eyebrow-raising enough for you, Commissioner Avakian placed a gag-order on the family, in a bid to prevent them from speaking out about the obstruction to their religious freedom.
Look, I think I’ve made it very clear in my bio and other articles that I’m quite gay, but even for me, this is ridiculous. All the Kleins did was say that, because of their religious beliefs, they weren’t comfortable creating a cake for a same-sex wedding. They didn’t even insult the lesbian couple.
They had their life’s work ruined by what should’ve been left as a small disagreement, and I’m disgusted at how they’ve been treated after the fact.
Is it Hate?
After learning what I know now about this case, I can never believe that the Kleins were, or are whatsoever hateful towards LGBTQ people, much less their complainants. That’s a false accusation I’ve seen used in the comment sections of the articles written on this case, and I couldn’t disagree more.
In fact, it can be argued that the people/entity with the real hate here is the Oregon officials who went out of their way to punish the Kleins beyond what is reasonable. The faith of the Kleins was attacked and mocked, and as a fellow Christian, my sympathy for their struggle overrides my initial displeasure with the cake.
The Real Problem
Overall, my biggest beef is with the Oregon officials who went out of their way to punish the Klein family to an extent that went far beyond what their choice deserved. Yes, without a doubt, they could’ve handled the cake situation better, given the state’s anti-discrimination laws. And let me make myself clear: especially as a gay guy, I don’t approve of Mr. Klein’s listing of the “abomination” Leviticus verse as an explanation for his stances, because that one verse has been used often by others for blatantly hateful purposes.
But do I think that the Kleins, themselves, are hateful people out to discriminate against people like me? No. Absolutely not.
And this is why.
After the Sweet Cakes bakery was closed down, the Kleins sent cakes with loving messages on them to various West Coast pro-LGBT groups to show that they meant no ill will, despite how they had been demonized by various media groups and advocates. They took the higher ground, and I respect them for that.
In regards to the lesbian couple, I understand that I don’t have any clue what they’re still dealing with. It’s likely that they’re still facing fallout from this whole charade, and I truly pity them for that. I need to avoid unfairly accusing them of pushing for the Kleins to be punished like they did, especially when they made it clear in this article that they only wanted an apology. It’s clear to me that they almost became a pawn of sorts in the hands of the officials who punished the Kleins.
I know that no matter what anybody says or thinks about them, the Kleins will receive the justice do to them, especially after they’ve shown such grace in the face of the hate they’ve received. Whether anybody likes it or not, the Kleins have shown incredible mercy towards their opponents, and that always pleases God.