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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Wedding Cake Case Comes To Court

Randy L. Rasmussen
The Oregonian/OregonLive
The Oregon Court of Appeals listened to an appeal Thursday, Mar. 2, 2017, in Salem by the lawyer for Melissa and Aaron Klein, the Oregon bakers who were fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding in 2013.

The case of the Christian bakers from Gresham, Oregon, who refused to make a wedding cake for two women reached the Oregon Court of Appeals Thursday.

Aaron and Melissa Klein said making the cake for the lesbian couple would violate their religious beliefs. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ordered the Kleins to pay $135,000 in damages after the women who were turned away filed a complaint.

The Kleins appealed the ruling.

Their attorneys told a three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals that the penalty is unfair because the Kleins were exercising their freedom of religion. But Oregon Department of Justice Attorney Carson Whitehead argued that the Kleins were discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, which is not allowed under Oregon law.

"It's enormously harmful,” Whitehead said. “It goes to the very sense of self."

The panel of judges will likely issue a decision in the case later this year.