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Justices handed a small victory to Melissa and Aaron Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa in Gresham, Oregon by dismissing a state court ruling against them and telling state judges to look at it again.
By doing so they avoided a high-profile decision on competing claims between gay rights activists and businesses which refuse to serve them on religious grounds, an issue which could have become electric in an election year had it stayed on the court’s docket into 2020.
The case began in 2012 when the bakers refused to make a wedding cake for Rachel and Lauren Bowman-Cryer, a lesbian couple who are now married. Mr and Mrs Klein maintain that baking the cake would violate their religious principles.
Rachel Bowman-Cryer had gone to the bakery with her mother. They left when Mr Klein told them that he would not bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. According to court papers, as Rachel stayed in the car crying, her mother returned to the shop and told Mr Klein that she had once thought like him, but her “truth had changed” when she had two gay children. Mr Klein responded by quoting Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”