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High court avoids new case over same-sex wedding cake

The Supreme Court decided Monday against a high-stakes, election-year case about the competing rights of gay and lesbian couples and merchants who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.

Posted: Jun 17, 2019 10:14 AM
Updated: Jun 17, 2019 10:31 AM

By MARK SHERMAN Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court decided Monday against a high-stakes, election-year case about the competing rights of gay and lesbian couples and merchants who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings.

The justices handed bakers in the Portland, Oregon, area a small victory by throwing out a state court ruling against them and ordering judges to take a new look at their refusal to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.

The high court's brief order directs appellate judges in Oregon to consider last term's Supreme Court ruling in favor of a baker from Colorado who would not make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The court ruled that baker Jack Phillips was subjected to anti-religious bias in the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's determination that he violated state anti-discrimination in refusing to bake the couple's wedding cake. The Oregon appellate ruling came before the court's decision in Phillips' case.

But the import of the order is that it keeps the case off the docket for a term that will end in June 2020 amid the presidential election campaign. The justices already have agreed to decide in their election-year session whether federal civil rights law protects people from job discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The larger issue weighing the rights of LGBT people against the religious objections of merchants remains unresolved. Another dispute involving a florist from Washington state who would not create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding is headed back to the Supreme Court.

The high court took the same tack last year in the florist's case. Taking a second look at the case, the Washington Supreme Court concluded earlier in June that there was no animosity toward religion in court rulings that florist Barronelle Stutzman broke the state's anti-discrimination laws by refusing on religious grounds to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay couple. Stutzman owns Arlene's Flowers in Richland, Washington.

The justices could consider Stutzman's appeal in the fall.

The Oregon case had been in Supreme Court limbo for months, sometimes signaling behind-the-scenes negotiation over what to do. There were no noted dissents or other explanation for the delay in Monday's order.

The case involves bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein, who paid a $135,000 judgment to the couple for declining to create a cake for them in 2013. The Kleins' bakery was Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon. It has since closed.

The dispute began when Rachel Bowman-Cryer went to the bakery with her mother in January 2013. They met with Aaron Klein, who asked for the date of the ceremony and the names of the bride and groom.

When told there was no groom, Klein said he was sorry but the bakery did not make cakes for same-sex weddings. According to documents from the case, Rachel and her mother left the shop, but returned a short time later. As Rachel remained in the car, in tears, her mother went in to speak with Klein.

The mother told Klein she had once thought like him, but her "truth had changed" when she had two gay children. Klein responded by quoting Leviticus: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 43793

Reported Deaths: 673
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah9502166
Marion6024109
Washington599178
Umatilla343545
Clackamas326766
Lane246727
Malheur194938
Jackson17967
Deschutes118513
Yamhill101315
Linn84515
Polk66815
Jefferson60710
Morrow5517
Lincoln51813
Union4842
Benton4636
Klamath4223
Douglas3688
Wasco34916
Hood River2841
Columbia2711
Josephine2703
Coos2601
Clatsop2480
Baker1403
Crook1132
Tillamook740
Curry581
Wallowa492
Lake430
Harney350
Sherman200
Grant120
Gilliam110
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 923648

Reported Deaths: 17559
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Los Angeles3050707044
Riverside675521306
San Bernardino641311073
Orange594421468
San Diego55898885
Kern34114420
Fresno31195439
Sacramento25882499
Santa Clara24665404
Alameda23636463
San Joaquin21988492
Contra Costa18877243
Stanislaus17814400
Tulare17730291
Ventura14409166
Imperial13023338
San Francisco12277145
Monterey1153892
San Mateo11278159
Santa Barbara9886126
Sonoma9601136
Merced9588155
Kings848683
Solano758676
Marin7107127
Madera506676
Placer429059
San Luis Obispo424032
Yolo325060
Butte313453
Santa Cruz284825
Shasta199931
Napa199816
Sutter188912
San Benito144915
El Dorado13684
Yuba133810
Mendocino115421
Tehama9219
Lassen7711
Lake70216
Glenn6793
Nevada6328
Humboldt56910
Colusa5536
Calaveras34721
Amador33716
Tuolumne2855
Inyo24015
Siskiyou2140
Mono1822
Del Norte1801
Mariposa812
Plumas760
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