Oregon gay wedding cake controversy spreads to Washington

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on February 5, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 5 at 7:20 PM

The "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" bakery has been in a hot mess ever since a mother and daughter tried to order a cake three weeks ago.

"My first question is what's the wedding date, and my next question was the bride and groom's name," said bakery owner Aaron Klein. "The girl giggled a little bit and said it's two brides."

After Klein told the women his bakery doesn't bake cakes for same sex marriages, the women filed a complaint with Oregon state.

Klein believes he's protected by his right to religious freedom.

"I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God," said Klein. "The book of Genesis talks about that for this reason. A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife. That to me is the beginning of marriage."

Opponents to Referendum 74, which legalized same sex marriage in Washington state last year, predicted this will happen here too.

"Business owners should have the right to run their business in a way that is consistent with who they are," said Joseph Backholm, of Preserve Marriage Washington.

But according to the Washington state Human Rights Commission, the agency that would field the complaints, any business serving the public that denies service to someone who is gay, could face a fine.

"As a personal individual, you can have any beliefs that you want and can maintain your religious freedom as an individual," said Laura Lindstrand, policy analyst for the HRC. "But once you open yourself up to business for the public, then you have to obey the law against discrimination."

Klein says he's served gay customers in the past with no issues. What he's against is making cakes for gay weddings.

Lindstrand says if it happened here, that wouldn't matter. According to Washington state law, if you bake cakes for opposite sex couples, you must do it for same sex couples too.

Businesses that discriminate against someone who is gay could be forced to pay up to $20,000 in emotional damages and legal fees.

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