State also reserves the authority to shut down First Amendment right of business owners. The state of Oregon has ruled that a bakery discriminated against a homosexual couple and must pay them $150,000.
The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon, denied service to the same-sex couple because of their religious belief that homosexuality is an “abomination unto the lord.”
Action by the state of Oregon forced the business to close its doors in December.
In Oregon, the state prohibits private business from making decisions on who may or may not receive service.
“Oregonians may not be denied service based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The law provides an exemption for religious organizations and schools, but does not allow private businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation,” Charlie Burr, the spokesman for Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, said earlier this week.
The state has set aside special rights and privileges for homosexuals. In 2007, the government enacted the Oregon Equality Act, which punishes businesses that decide they do not want to provide services to people who say they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
The state government of Oregon does not recognize the religious convictions of business owners. Only institutions and registered organizations are allowed to claim religious status and avoid coercion and punishment by the state.
“Americans should not have to choose between adhering to their faith or closing their business, but that is what this decision means,” said Anna Harmon, a lawyer representing the business.
The law apparently also punishes individuals for exercising their First Amendment right, although Oregon has decided not to do so in this case.
USA Today notes the couple who own the bakery “will not be penalized for speaking about the issue on Christian television and radio programs.”
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