The Rev. Franklin Graham has spoken out against what he calls an “outright attack” on freedom of speech after Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner Brad Avakin upheld an earlier ruling that forces Christian bakery owners Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay $135,000 for refusing to participate in a lesbian wedding. “Give me a break. In my opinion, this couple should pay the Kleins $135,000 for all they’ve been through,” Graham wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
“Even more outrageous is that Avakin has also now ordered the Kleins to ‘cease and desist’ from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs. This is an outright attack on their #freedomofspeech,” he added. “Pray for them as they appeal the ruling and for other Christians experiencing discrimination because of their faith right there in ‘the land of the free.’”
Avakin issued his final order on Friday, finding the Kleins, owners of the Sweet Cakes by Melissa bakery in Gresham, Oregon, guilty of discrimination for refusing to bake the gay marriage cake in 2013. The couple will now have to pay complainant Rachel Bowman-Cryer $75,000 for damages and $60,000 to her partner Laurel Bowman-Cryer.
Oregon’s Bureau of Labor & Industries Commissioner argued in his written order that there is no distinction between denying service due to the complainants’ sexual orientation and due to refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding ceremony.