Tag archives: Oregon

What is the price of adhering to your faith?

by Travis Weber, J.D., LL.M.

April 24, 2015


At least according to the State of Oregon. For that is the amount of the fine an administrative law judge (ALJ) recommended be levied against Aaron and Melissa Klein in his Proposed Opinion released today.

What did they do to deserve this fine?

They hold the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, and asked that they be left free to live according to that belief as they continued to live as they always had — in a quiet, peaceable manner, running their small business.

Too bad, according to the State of Oregon.

For when a couple walked into their shop requesting that Aaron and Melissa create a cake to celebrate their same-sex wedding, the Kleins refused to violate their consciences to do so, the couple sued and brought the weight of the State of Oregon down upon their heads. The State Bureau of Labor and Industries charged them under various provisions of state law for this act of obedience to their consciences. Never mind that the couple was able to obtain another cake for their wedding within days and even received a free cake from celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman. Aaron and Melissa must be forced to comply. Now the State is trying to force their compliance to the tune of $135,000.00.

The Proposed Opinion contains many errors. It is built on and reaffirms the ALJ’s previous, shoddy reasoning that none of the Kleins’ constitutional rights were seriously implicated in this case.

But chief among the errors here is that the ALJ completely focused on the emotional and other damages the aggrieved couple experienced throughout this matter — while completely ignoring the hateful vitriol directed at the Kleins and other ways they suffered throughout this entire ordeal. An opinion which considers one but not the other is not just. Not only have the Kleins’ constitutional rights been trampled, but their true suffering is ignored.

Moreover, as reflected in the Proposed Opinion, the State of Oregon continued to hound the Klein with demands for more and more punishment:

The [State’s] theory of liability is that since [the Kleins] brought the case to the media’s attention and kept it there by repeatedly appearing in public to make statements deriding Complainants, it was foreseeable that this attention would negatively impact Complainants, making [the Kleins] liable for any resultant emotional suffering experienced by Complainants.”

So according to the State of Oregon, discussing something of public concern which involves an individual’s constitutional rights being trampled is reason to ask the ALJ for further damages against them? (Of course, the Kleins did not “deride[]” anyone — that’s the State’s characterization).

More importantly, the ALJ proceeded to find that “the record contains limited evidence of any events involving [the Kleins] in the media or social media that publicized the cake refusal.”

After reviewing all the allegations of harm supposedly perpetrated by the Kleins, the ALJ concluded that emotional damages related to media and social media attention are not legally recoverable anyway.

However, he then recommended awarding $60,000 and $75,000 to the two aggrieved parties, respectively, based on a summary statement of the legal standard with virtually no analysis:

In addition to the State of Oregon’s obvious bias here, let us not forgot — neither the State nor the ALJ have recognized the fact that the Kleins have faced unprecedented antagonism for merely holding to their beliefs. It seems the no one wants to take responsibility for that. Moreover, the Oregon legal system does not seem interested in considering the substantial harm to the Kleins in its quest for “justice” — thus, there is no justice at all here.

We can only hope that the Kleins achieve justice at some point. Until then, what does this case mean for religious liberty more broadly?

As marriage is being redefined, and governments begin to tell individuals what (in their view) marriage is, individuals will (respectfully) disagree. Many believe marriage is instituted by God and no one can change that. And they will not be forced to violate their consciences by acting against those beliefs.

If we are to alleviate at all the threats to religious liberty going forward, legislative protections for those who dissent from the State’s view of marriage must be enacted. The American public overwhelmingly supports this idea. Recent nation-wide polling tells us that 81% of Americans believe government should leave people free to follow their beliefs about marriage as they live their daily lives at work and in the way they run their businesses.

In the United States, we have long had to live with differences of view among a diverse population. This has not been controversial in the past, and it should not be controversial today.

If you’d like to help the Kleins cover the cost of their forthcoming fines, or otherwise support them, please visit here.

Pornland or Portland? Christians Fighting Back, In Love

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 31, 2011

I went to theological seminary in Portland, Oregon. That might sound rather ensconced and safe, but I worked at a large commercial bakery in a run-down industrial section of the city. This exposed me to some things I would rather have not seen, as when, driving along a side-street one evening, I found myself running a narrow gauntlet of hectoring prostitutes; I drove away as fast as I could.

Portland has a justified reputation for urban renewal and natural beauty. Bisected by the Willamette River and set among lush, fir-laden hills, Portland’s charm is hard to forget.

Yet now, as Katelyn Beaty documents in her moving article about the sex trafficking trade in the City of Roses (that would be Portland; I proposed to my wife in the city’s massive rose-test garden, albeit in the winter when none were in bloom), Portland has become perhaps the single most dominant city in one of the ugliest “industries” ever devised - the trafficking of persons for sexual purposes. Veteran journalist Dan Rather has called Portland “Pornland,” and according to Joslyn Baker of the Multnomah County (Portland area) unit that specializes in child prostitution, “most Portlanders accepted the ubiquitous strip clubs as part of their premium on individual freedomuntil February 2009, when the FBI swept the Portland-Vancouver area and found seven underage girls, the most in any FBI raid at the time. With the ensuing national media coverage, Portlanders began realizing that their lucrative sex industry is the main ‘gateway’ for pimping children.”

Christians are fighting back, with love and tenacity. They have now started the Oregon Center for Christian Voices (OCCV), which over the past four years “has … become Oregon’s flagship nonprofit for passing laws that make it harder to sexually exploit children. In the same four years, two Christians in Portland’s leading assault advocacy group and police department have created a unique model for assisting underage victims. Their model earned their county a $500,000 federal grant that created a special committee on CSEC (‘commercial sexual exploitation of children’).” Additionally, Oregon State Legislator Andy Olson (R-Albany) “has worked with OCCV to try to amend Oregon’s Constitution (whose free speech provisions open the door for prostitution and illicit sexuality among youth). A Christian, he calls trafficking a ‘family values issue.’”

Rep. Olson is dead right, and the noble efforts of committed Christians to change Portland’s culture of prostitution and sex trafficking are animated by the same spirit of sacrifice and compassion that led the early believers to rescue unwanted babies from the Roman ash-heaps. As Shoshan Tama-Sweet, executive director of the Oregon Center for Christian Voices, told journalist Beaty: “The church has something special: We have the Good News. We have a vision of the way the world is supposed to be. And it doesn’t include the rape of children on our streets. When you realize that God loved every victim when they were born, that he’s with them every day they’re traumatizedit’s incumbent on believers to protect them, to help them become whole, and to insist that, in our society, we are not going to tolerate the antithesis of God’s beloved community.”

I believe Mr. Tama-Sweet is among those Jesus is unashamed to call brothers (Hebrews 2:11). May God bless him and his colleagues in their efforts.

Earlier this year, FRC held two events focusing on human trafficking and what Christians can do to fight it. You can view them here and here.

Death is cheaper than life…

by Krystle Gabele

August 4, 2009

Patients deemed “terminally ill” by the state of Oregon are getting the sense that death is cheaper than saving their lives. Since Oregon offers a state-run health care plan, those who are terminally ill have been told that their treatments have been denied, but that they would be covered for assisted suicide.

Fox News aired a series called “America’s Future,” which is looking at the challenges we face in the 21st Century. One series featured a man from Oregon, who was denied chemotherapy treatment and was offered physician assisted suicide instead.

Oregon doesn’t cover life-prolonging treatment unless there is better than a 5 percent chance it will help the patients live for five more years but it covers doctor-assisted suicide, defining it as a means of providing comfort, no different from hospice care or pain medication.

It’s chilling when you think about it,” said Dr. William Toffler, a professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. “It absolutely conveys to the patient that continued living isn’t worthwhile.”

According to KATU, another cancer patient from Oregon shares a similar story, as she was being denied coverage for Tarceva, a powerful chemotherapy drug. Oregon’s health care plan offered her physician assisted suicide as well.

Since Oregon’s health care plan was created 15 years ago, this was prior to the advent of new life saving medicines. Instead of prolonging the life of a terminally ill cancer patient, Oregon is now sentencing them to death by denying coverage. If President Obama’s health care plan is passed, this will be the same message that millions across the country could be hearing.