The Supreme Court lifted a 6-year-long order Monday punishing a Christian bakery in Oregon after it refused to produce a cake for a same-sex wedding.
The decision keeps the controversial dispute over the rights of religious dissenters and LGBT patrons off the high court’s docket for the near future.
The order was lifted due to the decision in the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop decision, which pertained to an evangelical baker in Colorado, where the court ruled in favor of denying services to same-sex couples due to religious beliefs.
Though the justices ruled in favor of the baker because a state panel displayed hostility towards his beliefs, the Court did not say whether conservative religious believers can cite the First Amendment in refusing to accommodate a same-sex wedding.
It was noted that the request for a cake from the same-sex couple occurred in 2012 when the idea of same-sex marriage was unsettled.
Monday’s dispute began in Oregon in 2013 when Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of “Sweet Cakes by Melissa,” declined to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman because of their beliefs that marriage is a union between a male and female.
Cryer and Bowman filed a complaint with a state anti-discrimination panel.
The Kleins, represented by First Liberty Institute, a firm specializing in religious issues, argued their actions were protected under the First Amendment’s free speech and free exercise of religion clauses.
State officials found that the Kleins violated Oregon’s Public Accommodations law in a subsequent proceeding
A state court in Oregon upheld the decision, finding that cakes do not deserve full First Amendment protection because they can’t be viewed as art and whatever expression they convey is not attributed to the creator.
The Kleins were ordered to pay a $135,000 fine and cease discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
The court further found that precedent barred the Kleins’ free exercise claim.
They have since closed their business from the financial penalty.
The Oregon court will search the case record for evidence of anti-religious hostility against the Kleins.
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