11/30/2013 11:10:00 AM Initiative aims to protect businesses over same-sex opposition
Sweet Cakes web page
Oregonians troubled by the prospect of same-sex marriage want legal protection for business owners who refuse to serve gay weddings and civil union ceremonies. A group has filed a proposed ballot measure, saying it's meant to prevent shopkeepers from being force to violate religious beliefs.
The initiative comes after the state announced an investigation of Sweet Cakes, a Gresham bakery whose owners would not make a cake for a lesbian couple. Facing pressure and boycott, Aaron and Melissa Klein have closed their shop, but operate online. They say the serve people who are homosexual, but don't want to take part in same-sex weddings because of their faith.
A group called Friends of Religious Freedom has formed to back the initiative. “We are deeply concerned that even Oregon elected officials are becoming hostile towards religious freedom," says Teresa Harke, spokeswoman for the group.
She criticized Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian for saying that the goal is not to have business closed, but "rehabilitated."
"It is very troubling that Oregon elected officials believe people of faith or with conscientious objections need to be ‘rehabilitated,’” Harke says.
A 2007 Oregon law prohibits businesses from discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. With gay marriage becoming a possibility in the state, some photographers, caterers, and hotel owners are have misapprehensions.
The measure has not yet qualified for the ballot. Organizers will need to gather more than 87,000 signatures first.
In response to the article about the Friends of Religious Freedom and the Oregon anti-discrimination laws (11/30/2013), I understand the moral dilemma they are dealing with and the affront caused by use of the word "rehabilitated." I also remember all too well the days of signs that read, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone." Business owners then were also people of faith with conscientious objections. However, it was a question of civil law regulating civil activity, then and now. Discrimination is not a religious freedom. Otherwise, businesses could refuse to cater to Jews or Muslims or atheists or homosexuals, and maybe even certain races. Remember our national motto: E Pluribus, Unum. Paz y Bien, Rolando, OFS.