Creep of the Week

Creep of the Week: Aaron Klein

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All together now: “If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake. Unless you’re gay, unless you’re gay…”

That’s the theme song of Sweet Cakes bakery in Gresham, Oregon who will not make you a wedding cake if you’re getting gay married because: Jesus.

Granted, their website states three separate times that Sweet Cakes makes cakes “for ANY occasion.” Just not gay occasions, apparently.

On Jan. 17, Sweet Cakes owner Aaron Klein told a potential lesbian customer that his business was not interested in her lesbian money and would not make a lesbian cake for her lesbian wedding. According to news reports, the lesbian’s heterosexual mother had gotten her own hetero wedding cake there for her hetero wedding. It’s the kind of referral many business owners would be happy to have.

But not Klein who, according to him, told the ladies he was sorry for wasting their time, or according to the ladies, told them they were “abominations unto the lord.”

Either way, he refused their business solely because they were gay. (Although, in the bakery’s defense, their homepage says, “NO BOX CAKES!” which could be interpreted as anti-lesbian).

And so the couple filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office because Oregon, unlike many states, includes sexual orientation in their non-discrimination law, which says a business can’t deny “full and equal accommodations” to people just because the owner thinks God is telling him to.

“I believe marriage is a religious institution between a man and woman as stated in the Bible,” Klein told The Oregonian. “When someone tells me that their definition is something different, I strongly disagree. I don’t think I should be penalized for that.”

That’s how laws work, right? We pick and choose the ones we want and don’t want to follow according to what we “strongly disagree” with? Which means since I strongly disagree with the law against marriage equality in my home state of Michigan, I can totally just abracadabra be legally married to my wife because I said so.

Not surprisingly, Klein’s refusal and the resulting legal action has received a lot of outrage both in favor of the baker and in favor of the lesbian couple. People are all, “Just go to a different bakery.” And, “I’m going to buy and eat all the Sweet Cakes cupcakes I can fit into my gay-hating mouth.” And, “You show ‘em, ladies! Stick it to the homophobes.”

It’s true that there are plenty of bakeries in Oregon who’d happily bake lesbians a cake as fast as they can. It’s also true that Klein is entitled to his opinion. But he isn’t entitled to break the law and discriminate based on sexual orientation, just like he isn’t entitled to refuse to make a cake for a Bat Mitzvah because he believes the Jews killed Jesus or something.

And don’t try telling me it’s not the same thing, as if one is just exercising your first amendment rights and the other is “real” discrimination. To make that claim is to devalue gay and lesbian people and sanction the discrimination they face.

During a TV news interview Klein told the reporter that he’d rather go out of business than make cakes for same-sex weddings. That certainly is his choice to make. And in a state with just laws, that is a chance a business owner who discriminates against gays and lesbians should have to face. Discrimination should have consequences.

As for the Sweet Cakes supporters who are devouring pastries in a show of anti-gay solidarity, I could’ve sworn the Bible said something about gluttony.

DAnne Witkowski

D'Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.

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