A judge’s verdict against a Christian couple in Oregon has religious liberty advocates counting this as the latest loss in the escalating clash against sexual liberty.
Administrative Law Judge Alan McCullough ruled that Aaron and Melissa Klein — owners of a Gresham, Ore., bakery — unlawfully discriminated against a lesbian couple by declining, based on their religious convictions, the couple’s request for a wedding cake.
In his Feb. 2 ruling, McCullough found that the Kleins violated an Oregon civil rights law that includes sexual orientation as a protected category. A March 10 hearing will determine how costly the fine will be for the Kleins, who closed their Sweet Cakes by Melissa shop after a public backlash and began making cakes at home.
The Kleins’ case is among an increasing number involving wedding service providers who find their religious free exercise threatened by the expansion of legalized, same-sex marriage. Gay marriage is now legal in 36 states, including Oregon, and the District of Columbia. Bakers, florists, photographers and other professionals who provide products for weddings have at times been forced to service same-sex ceremonies despite their belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman.
It is not just providers of wedding services who are battling to express their religious convictions, however. Increasingly, those with biblical views regarding sexuality are finding their jobs and livelihoods threatened as government agencies — and potentially courts — rule that laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights trump the religious exercise of others.
The growing, government-supported threat to conscience rights is real but not new, Southern Baptist religious liberty specialist Russell Moore said.
“For years, we’ve been told that the sexual revolution is about tolerance and personal freedom,” Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said. The Kleins’ “situation shows once more the real instincts of a state-established religion of sexual liberation — with the law used to steamroll every conscience in the way.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press