In 2013, Sweetcakes by Melissa was put out of business by Oregon Democrat Brad Avakian who was the commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. This was all due to Melissa and Aaron Klein standing up for their religious convictions.
They were fined $135,000 for refusing to make a cake for a gay marriage–the state also garnished their bank accounts to cover the fines. After everything was completed, Klein said the state took $144,000 from them.
These Christian bakers lost everything they worked for. But, in 2016–the voters fought back.
In fact, they ended Avakian’s run for Oregon secretary of state. Instead, they voted in Republican Dennis Richardson–this is the first time in 14 years a Republican has won the state office. Oregon is a solidly blue state–perhaps, some voters are starting to wake up?
Rob Kremer, an Oregon political analyst, said:
I think people in Oregon were uncomfortable with Avakian’s stated objective of expanding the scope of the secretary of state’s office to broaden a progressive agenda. While I don’t think the Sweetcakes by Melissa case was the only thing that turned off voters, it was certainly an example people could point to to show that he was abusing his authority.
Aaron Klein added:
His losing was a good sign that people don’t agree with somebody who is anti-constitutional to the nth degree. He never recognized our religious constitutional rights in his office. He just ignored them. And then he went off-kilter with ideas about what he wanted to do in his new office. He used his office to execute a personal bias and I think people thought he’d do the same with secretary of state. Most people don’t know his son is gay and he’s got a dog in the fight. For him it’s personal.
This is good news for Oregon. Yet, sadly, Avakian still has two years with BOLI. Moreover, the Kleins can never recoup what has been stolen from their business.