Bigotry is expensive

If you have a business that serves the public, you’re not allowed to discriminate. If your religion won’t let you serve everyone, then find something else to do.

An Oregon bakery has been ordered to pay damages of $135,000 to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake. The ruling by the Oregon Labor Commission upheld a previous finding that Sweet Cakes by Melissa had discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation.

Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a news release.

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.

“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society.  The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry.”

Though the Oregon Equality Act of 2007 includes an exemption for religious organizations and schools, it does not permit private business owners to deny service and discriminate against potential customers, BOLI said.