I don’t feel sorry at all for Aaron and Melissa Klein. The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Oregon were brought to tears recently at a right-wing summit, after explaining that they were fined $150,000 for refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple.
You see, Sweet Cakes promises on its website that “Cake is what makes the day special whatever you are celebrating, birthday, baby shower, wedding, bridal shower, anniversary, holidays, or just having a special dinner with special people.” They might as well add “Unless you’re gay or lesbian, in which case you don’t deserve cake at all because we believe you’re twisted and perverted.”
Of course Sweet Cakes deserved its fine. When companies open to the public, they’re open to the entire public. They can’t pick and choose which customers they serve. We, as a country, have tried that before. It wasn’t long ago that restaurants relegated African-Americans to lunch counters, only serving white people at tables (footnote 1).
What if Sweet Cakes had refused to make a wedding cake because the customers were an interracial couple? Or because they were Jewish or Muslim? To me, it’s all the same thing — discrimination. The Kleins might cite their religious beliefs, but that’s no excuse for treating customers unfairly.
The only problem with this fine is that it’s not big enough. There should be no leniency for those who would refuse service to others because of their prejudices (footnote 2).
Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
1. When my husband was growing up in rural Alabama, he lived near a Dairy Queen that wouldn’t even let African-Americans in the door. They could only get service at a walk-up window.
2. When my husband and I got married, it never even dawned upon us that someone would refuse service to us. Idea never crossed our minds. Every single vendor we approached was genuinely excited to work with us, as they had never done a same-sex reception before.