Militant gays force an Oregon bakery out of business.


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The thugs win: Militant gays force an Oregon bakery out of business.

The background:

On January 17, a mother and daughter arrived at Sweet Cakes By Melissa, an Oregon bakery owned by the Kleins. When the pair explained they wanted a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, the shop owners politely refused informing the would-be customers that their religious beliefs don’t condone gay weddings and that, because of this, they did not want the women’s business. Before the week was up the bakery was beset by attacks in person, on the phone, and in email. The gay mafia from across the country had sprung into action to threaten the lives of the religious couple. [emphasis mine]

The threats and loss of business have now forced them to shut their bakery. And the reason: Their religious beliefs forbid them from catering to a gay wedding, an act which would be the equivalent of endorsing that event. Note also that they had not been refusing to serve gays, only refusing to cater a gay wedding.

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29 comments

  • JGL

    Are these people in business or are they in religion?

  • Garry

    It seems to me that the whole story isn’t being told. I wonder how long they’ve been in business, for example? Starting a Mom and Pop is tough, and once a small business is established it’s tough to keep going. Most businesses close within a year of opening, or shortly thereafter. Many that don’t close pull back, closing their shops and moving their businesses into their homes, as these people have done.

    The shame is that small business is the American dream, yet it’s inherently tough, and getting tougher all the time, thanks in large part to onerous burdens imposed by government, and the occasional thuggish behavior of some on the Left.

    No doubt the harassment was wrong and made things tougher, but I wonder if they’re blaming it disproportionately.

    I support their right to turn down business on religious grounds, although I would not do so myself. But once more people came to my bakery in response to the publicity, I would have worked hard to make sure they had a reason to come back. I wonder what it was that kept people from becoming repeat customers, perhaps the quality of their product or service? Or did the thugs keep up a harassment campaign and intimidate potential customers? It’s hard to tell from the article.

    The harassment was clearly wrong, and fits the pattern of thuggish behavior from the gay community in similar cases. But my best guess is that the owners are not the best business people; I wonder if the harassment was the big deal they are making it out to be, or the straw that broke the camel’s back, or just accelerated what would have happened anyway?

    Something tells me this might be a case of crying victim, which I prefer to leave to the Left.

  • Do they have the right to their religious beliefs or has America become an oppressive Soviet-style culture?

  • JGL

    They certainly have a right to their personal religious beliefs, no one is questioning that, but as has been pointed out before, these people have chosen to open a public business. They have freely chosen to modify their status.If you are willing to say to someone when they walk into your public business that you refuse to do business with them because you find their activities offensive and will not do business with them because of your religious beliefs you are asking for trouble.

    and Would you tell someone that you would not do business with them because they did not have a beard because your religion demands that all men have beards?

    Has our culture become oppressive? I think our government is becoming oppressive, where the people take the culture is kind of an unknown at the moment, but this I do know, when business comes in the door that you have provided to the public you either graciously accept it or be prepared to graciously refuse it but you do not tell someone that because of your religious beliefs you are unable to accommodate them. I make no moral judgment here, I am saying that maybe these people should not be in business. Being “honest” is more of an ideal, existing in the real world demands some kind of consciousness and savvey related to what is going on in culture and tailoring to that reality.

    I understand your point of view about religious freedom but I think story’s like these are misleading and are not really about what they are promoted to be about.

    Garry, below makes some good points, he understands business and surviving in the real world environment. Story’s like these IMO are picked up to incite both sides of the issue on the subjective emotional side.

  • We will have to agree to disagree. Though we must all often compromise a lot for business reasons, at some point we should all also have the right to allow our personal beliefs to dictate our actions, without penalty. As with the previous case, the gay couple had many other options. To help destroy these people’s livelihood did not have to be one of those choices, and that this became the gay communities choice disgusts me.

  • JGL

    I am sympathetic to your position but you are not exactly comparing apples to apples, there is a heavier burden on the business operator to be “fair” because they have chosen to modify their status from an individual to a public entity (vindictive gay couple aside). I just ask that you remember and consider my position in the future regarding such situations.

  • Edward

    You draw conclusions from your best “guesswork.” I don’t think that is the best way to draw conclusions, as you can make matters worse. You could end up attacking the harassed victim rather than those whose pattern of thuggish behavior is clearly wrong. Something tells me that a harassed victim is right to cry victim.

    Why should the harasser(s) be allowed to harass freely? Why should they not be called on their thuggery?

  • Edward

    JGL,

    Companies discriminate all the time based upon behavior: “No shoes, No shirt, No service.”

    There is a name for governments that overregulate companies, especially if they also regulate speech. The beauty of free markets is that businesses and customers are free to choose, otherwise they are limited in their choices and may have to buy, for example, health insurance options that they do not want or need.

    Why should one person’s values be forced upon someone else? I may love my (hypothetical) dog, but that does not mean that I should be allowed to bring him into a restaurant. “No pets allowed.”

    Indeed, customers discriminate all the time. They choose one business over another for a variety of reasons, such as price, service, or product. Should I be allowed to force a company to change just because I don’t like something about that company? Think of the chaos if each of the 300 million of us could do that.

    Garry below does make some good points. He understands thuggery in the real world environment.

  • As with most things, the ‘gay community’ isn’t monolithic on this situation. The folks at gaypatriot.net have consistently opposed these types of actions, and have been harsh in their opinion of those who put identity politics over country.

  • JGL

    If you are operating a business open to the public you must be prepared to deal with what you have to deal with, whether it be pissed off gay “thugs” or anyone else that may enter your open to the public store. People operating a business should not be telling potential customers who walk in there open to the public door that they will not serve them because their religion forbids it! This is a no no and if you do intend to operate like this then be prepared to piss people off and be threatened, and be sued! Gay or otherwise. Can they just go and find a gay friendly store to have their cake made in? Certainly, but they have pissed them off!

    If a known prostitute walked into your bakery and attempted to order a cake would you serve her (or him) ? Might your religion have a problem with them too? If the answer is yes then you have to find another business model to follow. A business open to the public can not blatantly do things like this. Who is being thuggish here? There are subtle ways around it but these people who are operating these businesses are not competent enough to not get themselves into nasty situations. These are righteous, religious people and they are free to do as they please, but understand the consequences to your righteous actions.

    If you want to operate like that then you should have a by appointment only system set up or you might be able to get by by advertizing that you specifically and only work for your religiously affiliated customers in order that you could operate more in the way you would like. But not in the form of an open to the public store. The store owner is more equal here and has given away a measure of their private citizen status and must adhere to a higher standard. Apples to apples, the two party’s are not equal.

  • JGL

    Edward,

    All of the instances you cite are related to health code requirements so they are not relevant in this scenario and we are not talking about government over regulation. We are talking about one individual operating an open to the public store and there responsibilities and understanding of good business practices and another individual attempting to purchase an item from that open to the public store. You are creating a false narrative introducing non relevant “facts”.

    Please see my other recent post.

  • JGL,

    This is my blog. The only position I will consider in my posts and writings is my position. You are free to disagree and to post those disagreements in a civil manner on my blog (which you do quite ably).

    But don’t demand that I obey your dictates as to beliefs or philosophy. That ain’t gonna happen.

  • Garry

    Probably didn’t express myself that well; what I’m trying to say is that there appears to be thuggery here, but I’m not convinced the whole scenario is that clear cut (specifically, that their pulling their business back into their home was a direct result of the thuggery). Í don’t let them off the hook for thuggery, I just have some doubts about its ultimate effects.

    In other words, the article doesn’t support some of the definite conclusions that it draws, so I can’t draw them from this article alone. If I was in a position to take any action, I would first try to learn more than presented in the article.

  • Edward

    “…you must be prepared to deal with what you have to deal with, whether it be pissed off gay ‘thugs’ or anyone else that may enter your open to the public store.”

    With an attitude like that, let’s then accept that some of the people who will enter my business will insist upon selling me “protection,” and if I don’t pay up, they will demolish part, most, or all of my inventory or business. So are you arguing that thuggery is acceptable behavior by those people who believe in being thugs?

    Just what kind of an argument are you making here? That thuggery is OK if the thug does not like the way I do business? When did thuggery become a good idea?

    Should a respectable hotel be forced to serve prostitutes and their “johns?” And if it did, would it be OK by you if the prostitutes protested and drove the respectable hotel out of business? How much other business would that hotel lose if it served the unrespectable, and how would the hotel be able to avoid becoming a prostitute pick-up spot? Please do not tell me what values that the hotel, or I, should have.

    So who would be thuggish here: the hotel (or my bakery) that does not want to be overrun by prostitutes or the prostitutes who shut down the hotel because the hotel didn’t want them there?

    Why do you insist that I not serve heterosexual Christians, Jews, Hindu, Muslims, atheists, or any other religious group? Why are you insisting that I may only serve those of my own religion when others would not violate my values, religious or otherwise?

    Apples to apples? Please stick to them yourself. Values and religion are not comparable. That is like comparing apples to fritters. Some fritters may contain apple filling, but not all do. Some religions may have values, but please list the values of atheists (yes, it is a religion, just not organized and believes in the non-existence of god). Do all people of a given religion refuse to serve gays, or is it only some of them? Actually, the difference in your comparison may be farther apart than food, more like comparing apples to Cadillacs.

    It seems that you think that if I discriminate in one way, as a business owner, then you (or the government) have the right to tell me the many other ways that I must run my business. And if you have that right, then who else do I have to satisfy at the same time that I am satisfying your desires. What do I do when the desires of someone else directly conflict with yours? Oh, that’s right, I get hit by threats, thuggery, and lawsuits – and then go out of business.

    Who is being the thug here: the one who wants to run a business, or the one who wants to tell him how to run it?

    We are talking about being able to run a business without satisfying everyone on the planet all at the same time, because that can’t be done. Someone will not like my prices, or my service, or my product.

    And when did threatening someone become a good idea?

    And should the courts be used for intimidation or to compensate for actual injury?

    To think, I used to want to start up my own business. But not with society or the government busy telling me how to run it – or someone shutting me down if they don’t like the way I run it.

    What does that song say? “You can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please … (the gay community?)”

  • Pzatchok

    What if my ‘Open to the public’ business is a religious business?

    Such as a tailor for Catholic vestments and a supplier of accoutrements.

    Should I now be forced to supply some “Christian” church even though they have female pastors and openly homosexual members?

    What if a Muslim came in wanting something?

    Can I be forced to serve them even though my door has a huge sign on it refusing service to non Catholics?

  • Pzatchok

    At this rate opening a business now means you have to give up your right to free association.

  • JGL

    People can come up with a thousand crazy assed scenarios related to people doing public business and the scenarios are not the issue, how you deal with the crazy assed scenarios is what is relevant. If someone came in and was extorting you, then you call the FBI. If someone is a prostitute and has set themselves up in you establishment and is operation their business, call the police. THESE ARE ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES.

    If you are the kind of righteous person that must be blunt when someone walks into your public business and you are compelled by honesty to reveal to your potential customer that because they are, gay, black, Puerto Rican, Hindu, Muslim, Bhudist, wearing a turbin, have dread locks, are handicapped, that because of your religion or just because you don’t like how they look that you will not be serving them. YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE PROBLEMS!

    People may break your windows, picket your store, call their lawyer, call their big brother, call their mother (if they call their mother your in big trouble). You have pissed them off and they may be driven to further action that may negatively effect your business operation.

    In addition, the gay person did not close down the business, the people who operated the business chose to close down. The first rule in business is, you never give up. These people are not competent business operators and they have caused their own problems. Again, it is not the problem, your going to have problems, its the solution. If you cause more problems than solutions, don’t go into business!

    Associate with whom ever you choose, but when you open a public business you are going to have to deal with every kind of situation. And this story had nothing to do with government intervention as far as I can see, there seems to be the creation of facts to suit preconceived notions here.

  • JGL

    Update: There IS a civil case against the bakery which could be $1000.00 per violation and up to $50,000.00 for emotional damage. And we all know how emotionally damaged someone can become related to being denied baked goods.

    Lesson: if you are a religious, righteous and pious person operating a business open to the public try not to piss off a bunch of gay people, they are very well organized and they can make your life a living hell.

  • “People may break your windows, picket your store, call their lawyer, call their big brother, call their mother (if they call their mother your in big trouble). You have pissed them off and they may be driven to further action that may negatively effect your business operation.”

    This statement by you illustrates my point exactly. In a free society, people are tolerant. They don’t do these things, just because a business makes a choice they don’t like. They simply find another business to cater.

    That Americans today seem so accepting of this kind of intolerant, vicious, and violent behavior, merely because they don’t like the beliefs of someone, bodes badly for our future. And it proves once again that freedom is dying.

  • JGL

    First let me say that I have no doubt that these people may well have been targeted by gay activists because of their ridged business practices. If you are so dense as to think that you can operate a business like that and not have push back and on top of that when you do get push back you are unable to handle it, then you are not qualified to be in business. Go home, get a job and keep your biases to yourself, let someone else make the policy that you adhere to.

    Second, the reality you pine for Mr. Zimmerman has never existed in reality, it is an ideal never to be attained. Our culture, like everything else is constantly in flux and flux must be recognized and adjusted to (if you want to be successful in business today and every day before today) And your “freedom is dying” commentary implies that at one time there was an ideal. I reject that, it is just different. It may be more outrageous and activist today as a reflection of our times but you dig your own hole, know when to stop digging.

  • Edward

    JGL,

    There you go again, suggesting that breaking windows, using the courts to intimidate, calling big brother to intimidate, calling your mother to *really* intimidate are perfectly fine activities. (I still want to know when threats, intimidation, etc. became a good idea.) Then you deny that a business owner would be intimidated, or you declare that it is his own fault for choosing to be intimidated into closing his business.

    Are we living in a civil society or not?

    It is you who are digging. Intimidation is not a part of a free market system. It is part of a fascist system. The issue is freedom to operate a business without a bunch of people extorting you into operating it in a way that you don’t like. The issue is that if one group is allowed to stifle your freedom, then other groups will feel free to also stifle your freedom. Then you have to figure out which extortionists to satisfy so that you can stay in business — except that the other extortionists will also put you out of business.

    Indeed, I would like to start a business that helps people, but I would have to do so in a business-friendly place, because if there are people who think that I should be helping them, too, then I will have problems satisfying all the people all the time. (I am not concerned about serving gays, but there could be other groups that may choose to find a reason to extort me, and I sure don’t want a climate of extortion and intimidation to do business in.) So if the dissatisfied choose to picket, intimidate, or damage my business, then why would I want to bother starting that business in the first place? I have better things to do with my time, money, and effort. I feel sorry for those who are not being helped, they are now on their own.

    In the case cited in the article, the gay community (divided as it may be) has chosen to intimidate anyone that they disagree with. What kind of a system is that? (Oops, sorry. I answered that already.)

  • Edward

    “Go home, get a job and keep your biases to yourself, let someone else make the policy that you adhere to.”

    Why is it that some people get to display their biases openly, but the people that they disagree with are not allowed to open a business and must work for someone else?

    And now you are not only telling people what to do, but you are suggesting that others (government) should be setting policy that we adhere to, even though we don’t get a say in making those policies. How is that fair?

  • JGL

    I think we can agree on one thing here, Its best that you remain employed by someone else and let them worry about these kinds of policy issues. Save your money and your dreams.

    You and Mr. Zimmerman can harken back to those Utopian days, when everyone lived in harmony and everything was “fair”.

    Remind me, where was that again?

  • Don’t put words in my mouth. I never spoke of a time when “everyone lived in harmony and everything was ‘fair'”. The past was not paradise. One need only ask the black slaves of the south to prove that point. However, I am also old enough to remember the free and tolerant society that America used to be, and am honest enough to recognize the differences today. I am also a historian and have researched the past enough to know that my memory is proven by data and cultural fact.

    Nor do I deny that the past had similar examples of violent extortion for political reasons as we have seen with the gay community and this bakery. My point here is to note the modern version of this extortion so that people of good will might work to stop it. That you, and most Americans, seem so willing to accept the use of this violent bullying means you, and they, will be bullied more.

    And that is and has always been my point.

  • JGL

    I am explaining this situation in the context of the day, in the real world, based on my experience of over 33 years being in business for myself. And the last 21 + years in retail, successfully dealing with every kind, color, attitude and persuasion of human being, every day. Thats my history, I know what I am talking about.

    This story is not as simple as some here would lead on that this story is purely about religious freedom, free choice and vindictiveness. And when you write things such as “In a free society, people are tolerant.”, please tell me where this tolerant and free society exists? Are you describing a Utopia? Because thats what it sounds like you are describing.

    You write of an ideal, an ideal that is fine to move towards as a goal but can never be obtained (people have biases). Ultimately in dealing with any flavor of person there must first be established respect. You give respect and you receive respect, you, the business person sets the standard.

    The people in this bakery story have freely chosen, based on their religious beliefs, to begin a potential transaction in a disrespectful manner. They have set the standard and their standard was met with push back. And that push back comes in the form of a highly organized and apparently passionate and possibly vicious opposition. They have intentionally or unintentionally created this situation, which may have been a set up, and are unable to make lemonade out of it. So they go home and complain about “religious persecution”.

    I understand your intent related to our freedoms in the country changing in the big picture context but find you a bit idealistic and frankly inflammatory, especially when you base your big picture opinion on this particular narrow, odd ball and extreme example. Maybe its just me.

  • Edward

    JGL wrote:

    “Remind me, where was that again?”

    I don’t know. All of my adult life I have been discriminated against by federal government policy.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if that would change? Yeah, I didn’t think you would agree.

    But life was a lot better just five years ago, before such thugs ran rampant upon the countryside.

  • Edward

    You are right. The story is not as simple as we suggest. Some thugs showed up at a bakery and closed it down, and you spend a lot of words defending the thugs. Is that REALLY the kind of society you want, because if not then you should condemn, not encourage, the thugs.

    Why is it OK for some people to push back, but not OK for me to push back on them?

    You certainly sound like you are on the side of the thugs, as you defend and advocate their actions with every post.

    Is it just you? No, it is the thugs, too. What, pray tell, is wrong with wanting to improve the country or just my town? That is why I wanted to start up a business, to improve the country, but with thousands of people with your attitude to contend with, how can I be assured that I could possibly be successful at pushing back on those who would extort my company?

    The world that you advocate is significantly worse than the world that I advocate, imperfect or ideal as it may be.

  • JGL

    How can you be assured of success in business?

    You can not be assured, there are no assurances, thats why you are respectful and extra nice when potential customers come in your open door, you exist at their pleasure.

    DON’T PISS THEM OFF!

  • Edward

    JGL,

    Read the post again. I did not say that I would be assured success in business but that I could POSSIBLY be successful at PUSHING BACK on those who would extort my company. Your attitude suggests that I cannot, that thugs should rule. My other posts made it clear that someone will be pissed off at some time, so I cannot satisfy everyone all the time.

    How do you do it?

    Yeah, I didn’t think that you did, otherwise you would not have found out that an angry customer’s mother can be really intimidating.

    It is one thing to tell us what to do, such as not piss off anyone, and another thing to actually not piss off *all* of the customers that come into your business.

    (Oh, and don’t assume that I haven’t run a business. In the 1980s, I and some others had a company. We owned it, we ran it, and we made the make-or-break decisions; we had people try to rip us off, lawsuits against us, and lots of complaints — mostly over trivial problems, and yes, we did have parents show up — but we could choose to change or push back to keep our other customers satisfied. You just can’t avoid pissing off anyone, because just in that attempt you will eventually piss-off someone. Running a business is far harder than President Obama thinks it is. Yes, *I* built that, along with my co-owners and our employees and those who came after me — it’s still in business. We were in it together, not on our own, but now the president wants the government to take credit for the creation of US businesses just because we and our customers use roads and bridges. And yes, we *were* smarter than those who didn’t last long in business, and yes, we *did* work harder than most people. Sheesh, what balls that guy has, taking credit for *our* hard work and *our* better ideas, just because the government funded infrastructure that we all use. Supplying us with common facilities — such as roads, bridges, and parks — that we could not afford on our own is a major purpose of government (along with protection from invasion, adjudication of disputes, etc.). The president declared that only through government can we be in it together. HAH! Capitalism is ALL ABOUT togetherness, about getting together to form and operate a business. The capital comes from people banding *together,* pooling funds, to be able to fund a larger business than is possible on our own — larger meaning more employees working together, not working on their own. Government just gets in the way of our ability to satisfy our customers. Indeed, if we sit back and depend upon government to supply us with our needs, then we really *will* be on our own. But I digress.)

    We are not talking about one pissed off customer dragging in his brother or his mother to complain; we are talking about one customer rounding up hordes of cronies to put a business out of business in order to intimidate all the other businesses. The large chains can probably survive such an intimidation campaign, sometimes even without caving in to the hordes, but how did you manage to survive caving into the thugs at your bakery without pissing off any of your other customers and driving them into forming their own thug mobs?

    Once mob rule is the rule in the country, I don’t know how to survive the mobs demanding mutually exclusive operations at our bakeries. We need to complain about and stop this trend before it gets out of hand.

    For example, New York’s restaurants almost had to serve small sized drinks, which pisses off their customers (the good news is that the courts ruled in favor of the businesses and the customers, but based upon separation of powers, not usurpation of power, meaning that if the governmental powers get together, they could still usurp their power and tell the restaurants how to run their businesses).

    If the customers were unhappy with large size drinks, then they could 1) not order the larger drinks (which is what I do, but only because I am cheap, not in protest), or 2) boycott the restaurants until they stop offering large sized drinks (which I don’t, because the restaurants should be free to satisfy their other customers). Had the ruling gone the other way, these business owners, in order to stay in business, would have had to cave in to the government thugs and put up with the pissed-off customers, and the pissed-off customers would have had no other choice but to choose a restaurant that limits drink size. New York City’s government has gotten out of hand, because they successfully banned salt shakers from restaurant tables and transfats from their fryers. It took them pissing off everyone to get the courts (for the wrong reason) to stop the city’s overreaching control.

    Talk about thuggery, if you don’t run your company the way the city says, they will shut you down.

    To answer your question, sort of, about when there was paradise in the US (I know that I paraphrased a bit), in the last century we didn’t have mobs closing down small businesses then go brag about it to the newspapers. Such thuggery used to be considered antisocial and illegal, only employed by extortionists who would be imprisoned for such bad behavior. So it seems that only a decade or so ago, we had a much better business environment.

    Now thuggery seems to be standard operating procedure, and you, JGL, don’t seem to have any problems with a government that does nothing about these thugs.

    (I guess I had more pent up feelings than I thought. Thanks, Robert, for letting me vent.)

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