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Jew vs. Jew: Wedding Cake Edition

A battle over marriage equality spills over into the icing

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(Flickr)

Last month, a same-sex couple in search of a wedding cake approached Sweet Cakes, a bakery in Oregon co-owned by one Aaron Klein, and requested that Sweet Cakes make their wedding cake. Klein, citing his religious beliefs, denied them.

Aaron Klein, who owns the bakery with his wife, Melissa, told ABC News affiliate KATU-TV, he was living in accordance with his religious beliefs when he declined to make the brides a wedding cake.

“I honestly did not mean to hurt anybody, didn’t mean to make anybody upset, [it's] just something I believe in very strongly,” he said.

Klein became a target for national derision as well as the beneficiary of a surge in support from local patrons, who felt he was free to discriminate wantonly make his own business decisions.

The couple, undeterred, simply enlisted another baker, but it wasn’t long before they were also approached by Duff Goldman, star of the hit show Ace of Cakes, who offered to bake and deliver them a wedding cake for free all the way from Baltimore.

The blushing brides happily accepted, but have decided to keep their other cake because…well…why not have two cakes? They’ve directed people who feel strongly about their story to donate to a non-profit called Pride Northwest on their behalf.

As for Klein, the Oregon state attorney general’s office is debating whether or not he violated the Oregon Equality Act, which passed in 2007, in denying service to the couple.

Until that is decided, The Scroll happily bestows upon Aaron Klein the Walter Sobchak Award.


Bakery Denies Same-Sex Couple Wedding Cake
[ABC]
Lesbian Couple Accepts Duff Goldman’s Wedding Cake; Meanwhile, Business Thrives at Homophobic Baker’s Shop [Grub Street]

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marjorie says:

Klein is not a Jew! See the web site — quote from John 3:16 right on the home page. THANK HASHEM. (And this schmuck would TOTALLY roll on Shabbos.)

Adam: do you honestly believe that behaving in accordance with one’s religious beliefs is “discriminat[ing] wantonly? I don’t. Not that I agree with this guy, but I don’t think you can dismiss his concerns so breezily, and with such certainty that he’s wrong.

marjorie says:

you may also recall their charming facebook rant (since deleted), complete with gay, black and latino slurs, that concluded, “More cake for our fellow Christians!” you can read it here: http://www.examiner.com/article/sweet-cakes-by-melissa-posts-racist-rant-on-facebook

Don’t be fooled by the last name. Portland (where this incident took place) is full of folks with Jewish sounding last names who are of German non-Jewish descent. Very confusing to those of us who moved here from cities with large Jewish communities…

OldeDaveNJ says:

Anti-discrimination laws that preclude private businesses from denying service to certain protected minorities have been around for nearly 50 years and, in general, they’ve not included religious exemptions. The lack of exemptions has been recognized as a standard and necessary element in making such laws work. Bottom line is that, for businesses that make/sell goods to the general public, refusal of service to protected minorities is not a legally acceptable way of practicing one’s faith in this country … and hasn’t been for decades.

By calling the debate over single sex marriage “The Battle Over Marriage EQUALITY” you are implicitly taking the stand that the issue is simply one of civil rights and protection from governmental discrimination.
By doing so, you are avoiding any serious discussion or thought about the essence of marriage. This deeper question, should be relevant to people on both sides of the debate:

Why should government be involved at all in encouraging marriage? How do the enthusiasts for individual justify economic discrimination against singles? Why should marriage be a legal and economic alliance solely between two people?

Marriage does not exist for romance. Feeling that has found his or her “Life Partner” is no justification for the massive, almost universal support that traditional,and modern societies have for that institution.

Marriage is first of all, a contract intended to provide economic security for intended mothers, who forfeit earning potential to devote years to child bearing and rearing.

Within Judaism it has deep spiritual meaning: within the Kedusha of marriage (God willing) a father and mother become partners with God in the creation of a new human being. This is the only creation, ex-nehilo, that a person can do.

If marriage is to be viewed solely an equal opportunity romantic union, it should be outside the scope of law.

OldeDaveNJ says:

Based on the realities of how civil marriage laws are written in this country, and in accord with some key court cases, civil marriage exists in the form of certain benefits and protections granted to couples to promote the health and stability of families. That’s true for families consisting of just the couples themselves, couples plus biological kids, and couples plus kids from adoption, previous relationships, etc. That all is based on well-established research showing the benefits of such relationships to the people in them, as well as any kids being raised by them … benefits to physical, mental, and emotional health. And all of those reasons apply just as strongly to families headed up by gay couples as by straight.

It would have been so easy to come to a non public, quiet, solution: Offer the cake for a too high price and they would have moved on to the next bakery. No problems at all. No free advertisement for his bakery. No publicity for the couple. Too bad for all of them that he chose the “religious belief” strategy.

OldeDaveNJ says:

If it could be determined that he was asking a higher price of this couple than he does for other customers buying comparable cakes, he’d still be in violation of the law. You can try to break the law without getting caught, but patterns of behavior usually leave behind evidence.

Since I don’t live in USA I don’t know the US laws. My point was, that he made the decision to refused service because of his “belief”. And blew it out loadly. In a situation/business where ethical decisions have to be considered I think it is a valid decison of the business ower to refuse service to some clients (p.e. laywer refuses to work for a client who is accused of child abuse). And one can make this decision quietly. Maybe after consulting your Rabbi. I think he just tried a stupid marketing strategy and tried to get publicity.

mildmannered says:

I would like to know which religious belief exactly precludes him from baking a cake.

In fact, he can refuse to bake the cake and not be in violation of any laws. You can always reserve the right to decline a commission.

But jacking up the price because he doesn’t like them, that is discrimination.

Jesternator says:

So he’s not a Jew? So what? The article says he refused based on his religious beliefs, it never said which religion.

OldeDaveNJ says:

In the US, businesses have not had the unfettered right to refuse service for nearly 50 years. It has been against the law to refuse service to people belonging to certain protected classes, and there generally have NOT been religious exemptions for such laws. In Oregon, homosexuals are a protected class; if you make and sell wedding cakes to the general public, you can’t refuse to do so based on a person’s sexual orientation.

What’s the alternative? You don’t want to allow people to decide whom they do business with?

annulla says:

So what? Well, the headline says “Jew vs. Jew: Wedding Cake Edition.” That certainly implies that Klein is Jewish.

OldeDaveNJ says:

Again, anti-discrimination laws have placed restrictions on the ability of private businesses to decide who they do business with for 50 years in the US. This is nothing new.

Jesternator says:

Fair enough, I had forgotten the headline once I got done reading through their brief story. And this then makes the second time I’ve seen a sensational headline on Tablet that wasn’t accurate. I haven’t been reading Tablet long, but they seem dedicated to short, somewhat superficial stories that they glean from other news sources. They seem to want to sensationalize a bit and don’t pay much attention to the details…. it seems another reader dug far enough to look at the baker’s website that clearly implies he’s a Christian (John 3:16), why couldn’t the author or Tablet’s editor have been as simply diligent? And I agree with another poster on these comments that you can’t always assume (of you’re from a Jewish bastion like NYC) that just because someone has a Jewish sounding name, that they are Jewish (or vice verse).

I can accept that it is illegal, and personally I believe it should be. So yes, he’s wrong for doing so. I still think there’s something to be said for having the courage of one’s convictions. I know, I know….it really leads to some messy circumstances at times, but it also stimulates dialogue and (hopefully) greater appreciation for the “other.” Tolerance isn’t a one-way proposition. Just as people who are conservative in their beliefs should tolerate more liberal views, why shouldn’t liberals be respectful of conservative beliefs?

I think, regardless, he’d have been okay if he didn’t state the reason. Provided he didn’t make a habit of it. Now that he posted an arrogant Christian screed about the incident, he opened himself to a lawsuit.

OldeDaveNJ says:

Based on his reasons for refusing service to this same-gender couple, he WOULD make a habit of it. And if that pattern of discrimination were noted and documented, he’d be in trouble with the law, regardless of whether he’d ever explicitly stated the reason why.

Oh, yeah. Don’t get me wrong. He DESERVES the lawsuit. I was just speculating whether anything could have been proven on him.

C. LaSalle says:

So if the law wins does that mean owners can’t throw out customers who are verbally or physcially abusive??? What utter nonsense. Business owners should be able to decide who they do or do not do business with, period. The US is still the land of freedom of thought and speech, is it NOT???

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Jew vs. Jew: Wedding Cake Edition

A battle over marriage equality spills over into the icing

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