Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Show Notes:: Oregon silences bakers,,,Not (Pt 1)

There has been a lot of stink of late surrounding the recent BOLI ruling concerning Sweet Cakes by Melissa.  The Oregon bakery  that refused service to a lesbian couple.  My introduction to said hyperbolic rantings by the Reich concerning the aftermath of the ruling came via Todd Starnes:
Shut up! Don’t say another word.

That’s what the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) is telling the owners of Sweet Cakes By Melissa, a bakery owned by Christians who refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding.

On Friday the state ordered owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple they turned away in 2013.

The state also slapped a gag order on the evangelical Christian bakers – banning them from speaking publicly about their refusal to participate in or bake wedding cakes for same-sex unions.

“This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” Mrs. Klein wrote on Facebook. “According to the state of Oregon, we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”
So three points are at issue
  • Yes, the Kleins were ordered to pay 135K in damages.  Damages being the key word.
  • No, the Kleins were not "slapped with a gag order"
  • And, no the Kleins First Amendment rights have not been infringed upon.
I am only going to hit one issue for now for the sake of brevity:  In order to understand the damages awarded, one must look at the timeline of events as a whole.

According to the BOLI ruling, or final order as it is termed, the timeline of events is laid out starting on pp 3-21, The initial complaint was filed in 2013. In 2014, BOLI commenced an investigation and found that the Kleins did indeed discriminate based on sexual orientation. At that time BOLI began a conciliation process between the two parties to see if a settlement could be reached. It was not successful and charges were pursued by the state before an administrative law judge.

During this time period, Aaron Klein inadvertently revealed the (now) Bowman-Cryer's names and address.  As explained by BOLI beginning on page 9, Laurel Bowman was unaware of the disclaimer on the BOLI form for submitting a complaint (explained in the ruling). On page 12 it continues with BOLI notifying the Kleins of said complaint with the names and address of the Bowman-Cryers included.

The next day Klein published the first page of said complaint to F/B, it was removed later in the day. By the next day it hit the news. It devolved from there.  Keep in mind the Bowman-Cryers only released 1 media comment via their attorney, all subsequent media comments concerning said case came via the Kleins, their mouthpieces or BOLI.

According to BOLI's ruling Aaron Klein was not the initiator of the media interviews mentioned above (p 19) nor did BOLI feel he released the names of the Bowman-Cyers other than on F/B.  As BOLI notes when Aaron Klein posted to F/B he only had "17 friends". BUT then again the Kleins continued with their media frenzy though according to BOLI contact was not initiated by the Kleins.

That is where I think Lars Larson's influence comes into play as well as Alliance Defending Freedom (and you all know my feelings toward ADF).  It was not the Kleins per se that where doxxing the Bowman-Cryers but those on their side of the case pushing the media driven agenda for sympathy and money for the coffers; from Franklin Graham to the American Family Association.  But ultimate responsibility falls on the Kleins.
The Alliance Defending Freedom wants to take America back to the 3rd century. Literally. On the website for its legal fellowship program, the organization explains that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.”

“This is catholic, universal orthodoxy and it is desperately crucial for cultural renewal,” the explanation goes on. “Christians must strive to build glorious cultural cathedrals, rather than shanty tin sheds.”

While the Arizona-based organization has not made much progress in its mission of restoring the religious sentiments of the Byzantine Era, it has built a massive “legal ministry,” relying on 21st century attorneys and an eight-figure annual budget to reshape American law and society.
So all of this factored into the awarding of damages, and it is important to keep in mind, the Bowman-Cryers, during all of this, where trying to adopt their foster children and told by state officials that if they couldn’t protect the foster children in their home from the harassment that resulted from the Klein’s public posting of their home address, etc., they would lose the children (pp. 13-14).

As to why the damages awarded may seem so high:
The BOLI Final Order awards $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination. The amounts are damages related to the harm suffered by the Complainants, not fines or civil penalties which are punitive in nature.

The Final Order notes that the non-economic damages are consistent with the agency’s previous orders, such as an earlier ruling against a Bend dentist In the Matter of Andrew W. Engle. In that case, BOLI awarded a Christian employee $325,000 in damages for physical, mental and emotion suffering due to religious discrimination and harassment
Since the Kleins brought the case to the media’s attention (Aaron's F/B posting and subsequent aftermath) and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public (numerous interviews) to make statements it would be foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact the Bowman-Cryers, which makes the Kleins liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by Complainants.

In all honesty, I am surprised that the damages awarded were not higher.  Although the mark the award is set at, I believe, is explained quite well within the BOLI ruling.

Remember what I said in regards to "those on their side of the case pushing the media driven agenda for sympathy and money for the coffers; from Franklin Graham to the American Family Association."

This came across my news feed late last night:

As it stands now the Kleins have yet to pay damages although they have raked in $405,000+ in fundraising all because they chose to break the law. In the process they humiliated 2 individuals and put their children in harms way.
NCRM has reported before on the fundraising efforts promoted by religious extremists, from Franklin Graham to the American Family Association. A week ago donations to various fundraising campaigns came to about as much as the Kleins' $135,000 fine – which reportedly has yet to be paid. Now, those efforts have turned into a cash cow for the Kleins. Whenever they ultimately decide to cash out, they'll be rolling in the dough.

As we noted last week, Franklin Graham has been hosting a fundraising campaign for them via his Samaritan's Purse charity, and a GoFundMe campaign delivered reportedly about $60,000 after taxes before it was shut down, although some state that number was closer to $80,000.

Another fundraising campaign via Continue To Give last week had taken in over $55,000. Today, eight days later, that figure is about $345,000. Most of those donations appear to be anonymous, but Continue To Give lists 7,537 separate donations, an average of about $45 each.

The anti-gay hate group American Family Association has been promoting the fundraising campaign as a way to grow their own donor base, asking supporters to sign a petition linking to the Continue To Give campaign, while handing over their email addresses so AFA can later spam them. The petition also falsely claims a "gag order" is in place, generating even more sympathy for the Kleins.

The American Family Association is far from the only right wing group promoting the Kleins as religious celebrities. The Heritage Foundation, headed by the virulently anti-gay former U.S. Republican Senator Jim DeMint,,,
So please tell me again what this case is all about?

Hopefully, if your interest wasn't already piqued by these "religious liberty" type cases, I may gently shove you into paying attention.  In the end these cases (and other like then) have nothing to do with baking a cake.  To borrow from something I have stated before,
It is just this issue that Barry Lynne of Americans United for Separation of Church and State was concerned about in regards to the Hobby Lobby case. Lynn stated that the primary concern is contraceptive coverage under the ACA; but the agenda of the Religious Right is the right to opt out of ANY federal or state law(s) they do not like because of actual or alleged violation of THEIR religious principles.

All the legal mumbo jumbo aside, the Kleins and the ADF are still blatantly asking to be allowed to break a law because they are special. They are asking for a special privilege because they are religionists. Even if one where to take religion out of it, they are still wanting to break the law.
And guess what?  We get to have this conversation all over again in a few weeks/months, as ADF has another fundraising case on the dockets as I type, although this is an appeal. 

There will be more to come!!

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